The Stone Carving Studio with Kate Semple

John Parsons Chisels, Messums and Wardour


At the beginning of July we met at John Parsons in the rolling Chalk Valley in rural Wiltshire.


John makes stone carving chisels by hand, and sells them across the world. He spent 25 years as a stonemason at Salisbury Cathedral before deciding to make tools instead, so he knows exactly what a stone carver need. We learnt a great deal about what is involved in making carving and masonry chisels, and were amazed by his induction forge that heated a thick bar of steel in a matter of seconds!

Several people who come to Kate’s stone carving classes have quite a few of John’s chisels and have found them excellent to use.


We then moved on to Messums Gallery in Tisbury, Wiltshire, in their beautifully restored tithe barn, a fabulous building.

They had an exhibition of heads by a wide and varied range of artists, from Roman to contemporary and everything in between. It is always fascinating to see how the same artistic subject has been tackled over the centuries. It was beautifully curated and very inspiring.