Yorkshire Oak Carvers (aka Yorkshire Critters)

The wood carvers and furniture makers of Yorkshire, who work with oak and sign almost all of their pieces with a "critter" (aka sign-mark or sign-manual). The most well known of these is Robert Thompson of Kilburn - the "Mouseman".
Acorn | Beaver | Cat | Cat and Mouse | Dolphin | Eagle | Fish | Fox | Full Fox | Gnome | Grasshopper | Hedgehog | Kingpost | Knight | Labrador | Lily Flower | Lizard | Mouse | Oakleaf | Owl | Rabbit | Seahorse | Snail | Squirrel | Swan | Tite | Tortoise | Unicorn | Viking | Woodpecker | Woodworm | Wren
This information is a work in progress compiled from several sources, with some conflicting details, so any help in correcting errors, will be appreciated, by leaving a comment
Acorn George Grainger and son Alan Grainger (retired)
formerly Acorn Industries, Brandsby, York
Beaver Colin Almack (dec): Sutton-under-Whitestone Cliffe, Thirsk (ex Mouseman)
Beaver Furniture
Butterfly Andrew Conning: Tancred, Whixley, York
Butterfly Furniture
Cat (Long Necked) Chris Checkfield: Whitby (retired) (ex Gnomeman)
Cat and Mouse Lyndon Hammell, Harmby, Leyburn DL8 5PD (dec 2015) (ex Mouseman)
Dolphin Peter "Dinky" Daynes: Balk, Thirsk (ex Mouseman)
Old Mill Furniture
Eagle Albert Jeffray: Sessay, Thirsk (retired) (ex Mouseman) (dec 2013)
Fish Derek Slater, now Lizard 2
Fox Malcolm "Benny" Pipes: Carlton Husthwaite, Thirsk (ex Mouseman)
Fox Furniture
Full Fox Don Craven: Oldstead, Thirsk (ex Mouseman)
Gnome Tom Whittaker (dec 1991): Old Woodcarvers Cottage, Littlebeck
Other References:
Grasshopper John Minikin: (ex Mouseman)
Hedgehog Nick Hill: Brompton, Northallerton (ex Mouseman)
Kingfisher Not known - suggestions it could be Herbert Bird (York)
Kingpost Kingpost Woodwork who traded until the late 50s from Burton Leonard, near Harrogate
Knight Knight Family: Balk, Thirsk
Old Mill Furniture
Labrador Richard "Doug" Collinson: Brigg, N Lincs (retired) (ex Mouseman)
Lily Flower (Arum) Gavin Kirkbride, Northallerton (ex Mouseman)
Lizard 1 Martin Dutton (dec) (ex Mouseman) of Huby
Lizard 2 Derek Slater (retired) (ex Acorn): Woodcarvers of Crayke
Mouse Robert Thompson: Kilburn, Thirsk (The Mouseman)
Robert Thompson's Craftsmen Ltd
Mouseman Books
Oakleaf David Langstaff (ex Mouseman) Oakleaf Furniture: Easingwold and also by Fred Suffield (while working for Sid Pollard: Bagby)
Owl Albert Harrison
Rabbit Peter Heap: Oak Rabbit Craft, Wetwang (Closed) (ex Mouseman)
Ram Terry Harrington Craftsman & Cabinet Maker, Leyburn(ex Mouseman)
Terry Harrington Craftsman & Cabinet Maker
Salmon Brian Bowes (ex Mouseman)
Seahorse Shaw and Michael Riley: Hessay, York
Shaw and Riley Ltd
Snail ?? Alan Summerscales or Alan Haigh
Squirrel Wilfred Hutchinson (ex Mouseman) (dec 2013) and son Trevor: Husthwaite, Thirsk
Squirrel Woodcarvers
Swan Graham Duncalf: Bagby, Thirsk (ex Eagleman)
Graham Duncalf Furniture Maker
Tite Patrick Tite (ex Mouseman) (dec 2015)
Patrick Tite - Fine Craft Furniture, Driffield, E.Yorks
Tortoise Bob Hunter, now Wren
Unicorn Geoff Gell: Coxwold
Coxwold Cabinet Makers
Viking Roger Howard: Fulford, York (ex Mouseman)
York Cabinet Makers
Woodpecker Stan Dodds (ex Mouseman) (dec 2012)
Main carver at Robert Thompson for many years. Specialises in pheasants and other animals. Did a Rabbit originally, until Peter Heap started.
Woodworm Nigel Dixon: Topcliffe, Thirsk (ex Mouseman)
English Hardwood Furniture
Wren Robert 'Bob' Hunter: Thirlby, Thirsk (ex Mouseman)
Wren Cabinet Makers
Vendors of Yorkshire Oak (other than the firms themselves, mentioned above)
Vendors of Oak Furniture


Anonymous said...

enjoy your reference to critters - re King post -please see


think that the 1940's/50's reference is accurate - not sure how it relates to the comtemporary company ....thanks, Jed LOWE

mcl said...

Thanks for the info. I have updated the entry. Arthur H

KThxsBy said...

Hello just to let you know that on ebay this sunday im selling 9 critters from my own collection and your website has been very useful, but there is one that you have missed out (butterflyman) you are very welcome to use the photo. and bid if you so wish

thanks again Thomas

Phil Banks said...
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Phil Banks said...
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Phil Banks said...

Very interesting blog. Thank you. Could I suggest you make one alteration please. Stan Dodds never used the Kingfisher and reference to him as a possibility should be changed. He did use the Rabbit and then the Woodpecker as stated. (I am related to Stan).Thanks again for the info.

mcl said...

@Phil Banks. Thank you for comments and corrected details about Kingfisher. I have updated the entry. Arthur H

Peter Woodward said...

Just wanted to make you aware about my slowly growing trade mark.
I started with a labs head but once i found out that Richard Collinson used it i changed to a dogs Paw and have called my small business Duffa Furniture. please visit www.duffafurniture.co.uk or search us on Facebook. Thank you Peter Woodward.

Duncan Armstrong said...

Dear Arthur,

I should just like to inform you that the "tortoise" was a trademark for Duncan Armstrong who worked for Colin Almack("Beaver Man")at the Beaver Lodge Workshop at Sutton-Under-Whitestone Cliff between 1974 and 1986.Bob Hunter and his son David also worked for Colin at this time.

Kind Regards

Duncan Armstrong.

Mum and Dad said...

You've a figure missing. Acorn Industries was actually started by George Grainger, Alan's father, back in the mid-30s, after George parted ways with Bob Thompson. (I'm channelling my own father here, who's 90 and was a local farmer, and knew George and Alan, and Derek Slater, and Bob Thompson, and we have furniture from most of them).

George made a beautiful sideboard for my parents in the 50s, and at a roughly similar time he sold them a small adzed refectory-style coffee table, which is (interestingly) marked as Kingpost. I just asked my father about this, he said "There was a bloke over Knaresborough way who stopped trading, George bought all his plans and stock". That would tie in nicely with what you say about Kingpost's location and likely trading years.

As well as his son Alan, George trained Derek Slater, who then set up on his own. We have a glazed corner cupboard made in Derek's workshop, with the fish on it, signed underneath as "1977 J Warriner". My father remembers the (then-young) Mr Warriner (from Easingwold, he thinks) as Derek's apprentice. Where he ended up I have no idea, but he was (under Derek's supervision) clearly a fine craftsman.

Glynn Jones said...

Can anyone tell me anything about Mr Wilkinson, a furniture maker who worked from a workshop in South Kilvington near Thirsk until the mid 90s? He produced mouseman-style oak furniture to order but also worked in other woods and traditional styles. He refused to put a carved critter on his work, saying the furniture was signature enough. He wasn't an ex-apprentice of Mouseman, but clearly worked in the same area. I believe he retired to the north east. We have a few small pieces he made. A really nice man and great craftsman.

Dominic said...

Thank you for your guide, it is very informative! Just to mention, David Duggleby's have recently published a guide to Yorkshire Oak which may be of use: https://www.davidduggleby.com/auctions/yorkshire-oak-mouseman.aspx

Dominic said...

Also, I believe the unidentified 'Lily Flower' carver may be Gavin Kirkbride, based on the sale of this table.

wooden letters said...

This is really nice because it well informative for me and hope for others also keep it continued so that we can get benefits Wooden Symbols. Really very helpfull!!!

Phil Banks said...

There was Ian Warriner who worked for acorn industries at brandsby. Think he set up on his own later. He sadly died a few years back.

Andy said...

This might interest / make some of you smile - three mice per chair seems a bit over the top!