+1 year!

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The fully restored ‘Tijou Gates’ at Petworth House, West Sussex. Photo by Julian Smith

Back to Petworth House to check over the gates we finished restoring this time last year. Looking good! Never ceases to amaze me how difficult it can be to photograph large ironwork installations….. Hence a picture from last winter. I have to thank the very talented Julian Smith for capturing the gates in thier true glory. #blacksmith

For more information about the project

Or check out previous posts about Restoration of ‘Tijou’ Gates at Petworth House. and ‘Tijou’ gates.

Blacksmith, Hand forged, Design, Ironwork, Forge, Wrought Ironwork, Hot Forged, Blacksmithing, Tijou, Petworth, Petworth House, Jean Tijou, Petworth Gates, Brawn and Downing

‘Tijou Gates’ at Petworth House, West Sussex. Photo by Julian Smith


Sir Edwin Lutyens

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Sir Edwin Lutyens classic D handle forged ironwork reproduction

Well, Sir Edwin Lutyens has made it onto Time Team!

I have to write something about that, from a Blacksmiths point of view of course….. we make and re-work many of his designs and participate in restoring and developing many of his buildings, its almost a specialty, we must have made more than any Designer Blacksmith , one order was over 500kg I seem to remember.

Lutyens used ironwork quite a bit on, or rather in his buildings, but not in the way you may think. It was always ironmongery and ordinary utility objects. Not grand Gates, Railings, Iron staircases, Lanterns, Signs etc. just all the little things that make life work, such as latches, hinges something to keep the door open. Like his buildings they got the job done…. looking familiar and homely.

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Lutyens cupboard handles

Large Ironwork projects weren’t his thing, I can only recall two sets of Iron gates, one in India and his Remembrance Gates, the latter is good, but a Baroque pastiche, not what you’d expect from an Arts & Crafts designer. There were some lanterns I think on Hampton Court bridge, Baroque again, but with all that Jean Tijou stuff next door I guess he felt obliged to show it some love. There are a few designs for garden gates floating about, I’ve seen a few in real life, I very much doubt they are Edwin Lutyens designed, despite the owners claims.

He didn’t do outrageous, challenging or I dare say thought provoking work, I’m not sure if that was ever the Edwardian way? He was a safe pair of hands, in a brave new world,  late nineteenth, early twentieth century was an exciting place for Great Britain, at that time everything was on the up and Britain was on top of the world. That is until WW1 (have you checked out our Warhorse article?), then the depression etc. but Lutyens soldiered on cutting his cloth to his starched suits. And he was prolific throughout. His success I believe was not  far sighted artistic vision or an ego as big as a giant,  gerkin (phallic, with nowhere to put your book shelf?). I think he genuinely wanted to embrace what we once had and still have, but make it better. Don’t throw out the baby with the bath water mentality…….. and that’s one that I live by!

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Lutyens hinges, Folly Farm, Berkshire.

Being a local man (he was born in Thursley, Surrey, you know!), Lutyens worked a lot in Surrey, Hampshire and Berkshire and there’s a lot of residences that have his name on (and Gertrude Jeykll too). We have worked on and made Ironwork for many of them, either in our own name or for others. Folly Farm (Sulhamstead, Berks), Hascombe Court (Hascombe, Surrey), Goddards (Abinger, Surrey), Orchards (Bramley, Surrey), Sullingstead (Godalming, Surrey), Chinthurst Hill (Wonersh, Surrey) to name a few.

As a Blacksmith its great to reproduce Lutyens designs; they are honest and true, no tricks, just looking back to a time when things worked….. there was no space in the home, if they didn’t. I’m glad that Sir Edwin is getting some air time, because he was a great architect and designer, working hard for the client and giving the customer what they asked for, without burdening them with the nonsense that so often pools and boils about some of today’s Designer/Architectural types (some not all!)

There’s a smaller article on this site regarding Sir Edwin Lutyens Here’s the link! Enjoy.

Blacksmith, Hand forged, Design, Ironwork, Forge, Wrought Ironwork, Hot Forged, Blacksmithing, Sir Edwin Lutyens, Lutyens, Ironmongery, D handle, Door furniture.

Lutyens hinges and locking bar, BLF re-worked.

‘Tijou’ gates

'Tijou' gates circa 1900

‘Tijou’ gates circa 1900

Our latest commission is drawing to an end.

Burrows Lea Forge Ltd has been working on the conservation and restoration of the ‘Tijou’ gates at Petworth House since December 2012. The picture above shows the gates as they were in 1900. Since mid 20th century the gates fell in to a state of disrepair. Despite efforts by the National Trust to conserve elements in the mid 90’s it was only a temporary fix. In 2012 funding was finally secured for their restoration.

This job is a massive undertaking by Burrows Lea Forge Ltd and the largest in the company’s 22 years of trading. At the end of August 2013 the work will be complete and the gates are renovated to their former glory and very impressive they are too. All the work has been carried out by qualified, time served Blacksmiths using traditional skills, materials and techniques. Sound conservation practice has been employed throughout.

Not a job for the faint hearted; at the last count we have made over 570 new leaf based components and made over 1000 repairs and new fixings. There will be more of a write up on this Blog in September, but in the meantime have a look at for more information and pictures


‘Les Miserables’

Shackles for Les Miserables 2012, close up.

Shackles for Les Miserables 2012, close up.

Missed this one! Well I did until today, I’ve just realised we made props for the award winning Les Miserables film and didn’t shout about our involvement, we were so busy in 2012 I totally forgot we had done our bit toward the film’s success.

Barricade Productions approached us regarding a particular scene where they needed a large quantity of authentic ‘slave’ shackles. We had worked with some of their production staff on other films, so were recommended as a safe pair of hands. I have a big problem with anything to do with the word ‘slave’. As a professional, 21st century Smith I don’t do restraint items, arms or weapons (including knives). Barricade were quick to clarify that this was the only description that fitted what they had in mind, the metalwork was to be used in a set dressing context. The production company  was hiring Pinewood Studio’s water tank set for the scene (a big deal apparently, James Bond movie’s use it a lot!)  and to boot it had Russell Crowe as the baddie ‘Javert’; he’s my wife’s favorite, so I had to take on the commission.

In the scene, Hugh Jackman’s ‘Jean Valijean’ lead charachter fights his way on to a dry land, weighed down by his chain restraints, having survived a landing from a stricken ship. Following are many ‘lost souls’ in a similar predicament. Twenty five sets of bindings/cuffs/shackles were needed for the professional actors. We had made some for the ITV series of ‘Sharp’ in the 90’s starring my favorite actor Sean Bean, so twenty + sets was no problem. As usual budget was a problem, but we managed to deliver accurate copies of the production companies historic sample.

Burrows Lea Forge’s blacksmiths turned round the order for 25 sets within 2 weeks of the order being placed and on budget. That’s pretty good as Movie work goes. Especially as we were making pieces for Walt Disney’s ‘Malificent’ at the same time.Thanks to Mick, his industrial Smithing expertise did us proud on this one (as he always does).

Les Miserables shackles 25No. exactly copying Baricade Production's original on right.

Les Miserables shackles 25No. copying exactly Barricade Production’s original on right.

Ironmongery for ‘Malificent’ film.

A selection of Ironmongery for ‘Malificent’

Late spring 2012 we were approached by Briar Rose Productions to make some set decorations and props for a Walt Disney Productions film titled Malificent (the wicked witch/Queen in Snow White) played by Angelina Joli, the film was directed by Robert Stromberg.
As usual we were approached because the production company wanted accurate, quality reproductions and interpretations of their designs, hand forged by Artisans and delivered in the time restraint that film production demands. Its a credit to Disney and Briar Rose that our traditional craftsman skills and authentic product we offer  are valued over fake or CGI decorations.
The picture above shows a small example of what we made hopefully you might see our small contribution in context when the film comes out in March 2012. Just in case you wish to commission copies of this ironwork…. you can’t, I’m afraid. We made these items exclusively for Disney, so you’ll have to talk to them first!
If you’re interested in this type of work, take a look in the ‘The Movies’ section of this website for more examples.

Fire Dogs & Baskets

Norman Shaw Repro Fire Dogs

Reproduction Fire Dogs – Richard Norman Shaw

We design and make a lot of Fire related Ironwork.

Straight away we need to discern the difference between Wrought Ironwork and Cast Ironwork in this article. We at Burrows Lea Forge work in the medium of Wrought Iron/Mild Steel, which can be forged, bent and generally manipulated by heat in a Blacksmiths Hearth, it is ideally suited to ‘limited batch’ production and ‘one off’ bespoke items. Cast Iron like the name implies, is cast. In a Foundry molten Iron is poured into a pre-formed sand or ceramic mould this process lends itself to be ‘batch/semi mass’ market. Confusingly hot forged Mild Steel is often referred to as ‘Wrought Ironwork’ even though it is Wrought Iron-less…… its very confusing I know, I have to explain it all the time, sorry for that!

Fire dog & basket

Hand forged fire dog and basket.

With that over, back to my Blog, the most obvious Wrought Ironwork fireside items are Fire Baskets and Dogs. The ‘Dogs’ are traditionally separate to the Basket and can be used to support/position large logs while they are burning in the fire, but they can be used in conjunction with the Basket to burn a more wide variety of combustibles. Quite often we have orders for ‘statement’ Fire Dogs, just to create a fire place setting even when there is no intention of using a Basket or ever lighting a fire in the hearth. Fire Dogs and Baskets need to be heavily made; they have to withstand the rigours of heat, weight and the caustic conditions the fire’s ashes create.

We like to design specifically for each Hearth; every fireplace has an individual character and it’s a shame to just put in any old grate you find. Good quality Fire Baskets don’t come cheap and should be seen as an investment. A well designed, solidly made Fire basket will last a lifetime and should have an heirloom appeal. At Burrows Lea Forge we always design in serviceability to our work, so you can be sure no matter the use/abuse your Ironwork suffers we can always fix it.

Period Wrought Ironwork Fire Dogs & Baskets are now in great demand as authentic items are scarce on the open market. Period styles fetch high prices, Gothic Revival, Arts & Crafts, Art Deco and Art Nouveau in particular. We like to replicate these styles as they are interesting from a historical point of view, they were designed to look good first…. And fulfil their function second. Before these historic period styles, Fire Basket and Dogs tended to be more functional units as they tended to be used in working (cooking, cottage industry etc.) environments where looks came a poor second place to getting a job done.

The other classic and distinct styles are Medieval Gothic, Tudor, Stuart, Baroque and Rocco (There is of course as everything before and in between, but that’s quite subjective). We have never been restricted to period styles and are quite happy to design and make contemporary fire furniture and in the spirit of 19th/ 20th century styles, looks are the priority.

Contemporary designed free standing Fire Basket

Contemporary designed free standing Fire Basket

Warhorse Ironmongery

Warhorse Ironmongery

A small selection of forged ironmongery made for the Steven Speilberg’s film ‘Warhorse’

We were asked to make some specific set decorations for Steven Speilberg’s film Warhorse. Its the first time we’ve worked for one of his production companies and the experience was good. As usual, for films and documentaries our specific remit was authentic, detailed hot forged reproduction of existing  samples or images (they already employ plenty of ‘cut it & shut it’ fabricators etc). The picture show in a small sample of what we were asked to make, it is all forged in an open hearth (coke fire) and by hand as the samples and images were.

On a personal note (this is a blog page after all),  I find this type of work particularly interesting, its very rarely these days we get a genuine opportunity to make general rustic implements and utility items, obviously the Blacksmiths in the past would consider this work as humdrum and tedious, but a Forging Smith its real time-travel to our Blacksmithing past.

In the past we have made itms on various archaeological and historical series,  a few of Ridley Scott’s film’s including the most recent Robin Hood, ITV’s Sharp series, currently we’re making set items for the film of  ‘Les Miserables’ and we have just started the Disney film version of ‘Sleeping Beauty’.


Luytens Handles and latches

Luytens handles and latches

Luytens handles and latches

These are Luytens reproduction handles we were asked to replicate by MD Joinery, Guildford. We make a lot of bespoke reproduction ironmongery. We specialise in Arts & Crafts styles in particular. Luytens, Henry Woodyer, Norman Shaw are some of the most common designers we are asked to copy.

Please excuse the cup I’ve used it an impromptu scale…. it is clean!