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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

Nathaniel Hitch (1846–1938)

Sculptor, born in Ware, Hertfordshire, the son of George Hitch, a carpenter and joiner and, from c.1861, a builder. By the age of 14, Nathaniel Hitch was living in London and serving an apprenticeship with Farmer and Brindley. During the 1890s and until 1901 he trained at the South London Technical School of Art. Hitch was an exceptionally prolific craftsman-sculptor, providing altarpieces, church furniture and other decorative features for a number of late Victorian and Edwardian architects. He worked with H.P. Burke Downing, H. Fuller Clark, W.D. Caroë, Paul Waterhouse and T.H. Lyon. His most productive partnerships however, were with John and Frank Loughborough Pearson, with whom he worked on Truro Cathedral, the Astor Estate Office on the Thames Embankment, and elsewhere. Hitch carved the tympanum sculpture for J.L. Pearson’s controversial ‘restoration’ of the North Transept of Westminster Abbey, completed in 1892. He exhibited only once at the Royal Academy, showing a bust of F. Weekes Esq. there in 1884. He contributed a figure of The Buff to Canterbury’s Boer War Memorial. This was inaugurated in 1904 in Dane John Gardens. It was designed by W.D. Caroë, and the lettering on it was one of Eric Gill’s earliest efforts. In his later years, Hitch produced two monumental effigies of Bishops for Washington Cathedral. His short obituary notice in the Builder described him as ‘an expert in Gothic’. Hitch’s son, Frederick Brook Hitch was also a sculptor.

Bibliography: Builder, 4 February 1938, p.263 (obit.); N. Hitch, ‘Work Album’, with photographs and cuttings – Archive of the Henry Moore Centre, Leeds; Mapping Sculpture; A. Quiney, John Loughborough Pearson, New Haven and London, 1979; Victorian Web; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 6, 311, 312, 313, 316.

Philip Ward-Jackson, 2003; revised Terry Cavanagh, May 2024