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The Making of the "Wensley Yew"

A trophy bow made for Mr and Mrs Radford of North Yorkshire

In May 2008 Past Master Peter Seaton was in Lake Como with Figaro, the 2006 Past Masters Association. The wife of the Past Master of the Furniture Manufacturers, Mrs Radford, sought him out to ask about some yew logs which had become available from taking down Yew trees in her garden in North Yorkshire.

Enquiry revealed that her gardener suggested that the five six foot logs should be made into a bow. Further enquiry revealed that the dimensions of the log certainly indicated the possibility of making a bow, but there was no information regarding knots etc.

The nearest freeman bow maker in Yorkshire was Malcolm Grady, who lives near Grimsby, and Peter asked him, on the basis of the information given, whether it would be possible to make a yew long bow.

Malcolm suggested that it would be unlikely due to knots etc but when he was next in the part of Yorkshire he would visit Mrs Radford. In due course he visited the logs which had been left in long grass, not a good sign.

He took one back to Grimsby to dry out and season for at least four months. The bow making process then started as can be seen from the photos.

It soon became very clear that because of the knots it was not possible to make a working bow. The Radfords suggested that a 'trophy' bow could be made for hanging over the mantelpiece. The bow was made and strung and there are some very serious health warnings about the use of the bow attached to the back.

From the photographs it is possible to identify faulty grain and there is no sap wood in the lower limb.

The Company is most grateful to Malcolm Grady for his time, effort and skill in producing this trophy bow an excellent example of the bow-makers skill and one hopes the good fellowship between livery companies.

Peter Seaton
Past Master

Malcolm Grady
Freeman

10th February 2009

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