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Meet Gillies Jones

Stephen Gillies at work in the Gillies Jones studio © VisitBritain/Sam BarkerStephen Gillies at work in the Gillies Jones studio © VisitBritain/Sam Barker

Stephen Gillies and Kate Jones create stunning contemporary handmade glass in their workshop in the village of Rosedale Abbey.

They have gained worldwide recognition for their ornamental glasswares, lauded for their vibrancy and complexity. Each piece is unique and handmade, relying on highly skilled techniques practised today by only a few glassmakers across the globe.

Gillies Jones glass work is found in museum collections worldwide, including amongst the treasures of the V&A Museum in London, and in specialist glass collections, such as The European Museum for Modern Glass in Germany.

In this film Kate reveals how their work is inspired by the elemental beauty of the landscape around their studio in the largest valley of the North York Moors – Rosedale.

Be inspired by the North York Moors…

Following Kate and Stephen’s film, we want to share some of our collective suggestions for exploring the North York Moors most inspirational places. You’ll find more ideas across our series of features on makers from across the region.

Discover Rosedale - a history of glassmaking and industry

With the opening of their studio twenty-five years ago, Kate and Stephen revived a tradition of glass making in Rosedale dating back to the late 1500s, when French Huguenots fled religious persecution to settle in rural English dales to continue their trade.

Glass bowl by Gillies Jones ©VisitBritain/Sam Barker

The tranquillity and beauty of the setting today makes it difficult to imagine the hive of industry that previously existed here as a result of the once thriving iron industry. From the mid 19th century, a workforce of around 3,000 people, ten times the population of the valley today, was employed locally to extract and roast iron in specially designed kilns. These impressive structures still remain, but only as relics once the last mine closed in 1927. It is now a beautiful place to explore and witness how nature has reclaimed the land.

Feeling inspired? – why not head to the Land of Iron webpages, where you can discover more about this period of industrial growth and exploitation.

Explore Kate and Stephen’s favourite places

Gillies Jones workshop in the village of Rosedale Abbey, is nestled deep in Rosedale, surrounded by steep hills, winding roads and trails leading up to the moorland ridges above. A favourite place of Kate’s to find inspiration is the top of Chimney Bank, one of the steepest of these slopes and infamous amongst local cyclists!

High Baring workshops, Rosedale East by Tom Mutton

Take in panoramic views of the valley by following the gentle and flat 2.4km walk from the car park at Chimney Bank, along the track of the old mineral railway built to transport the iron ore during Rosedale’s industrial boom.

Kate and Stephen love to walk anywhere along the old railway line and a longer waymarked 12km walk along the railway connects Rosedale Abbey village through rolling valley farmland, with Rosedale itself, returning back along the old railway track past the impressive ruins of the old roasting kilns.

Beyond Rosedale, Kate recommends one of many scenic driving routes through the National Park:

"I particularly love the drive from Castleton via the Lion Inn to Hutton le Hole which takes in views over Danby Dale and Farndale."

Farndale is particularly worth exploring in spring when it is glows golden with a spectacular display of wild daffodils.

Farndale wild daffodils Credit Mike Nicholas

Kate offers some exclusive insider tips for refreshment in the dale and on the nearby coast,

Graze on the Green in Rosedale is outstanding for coffee, cakes and light lunches. We are spoiled here in Rosedale with three teashops and two pubs. We like to visit Whitby and have breakfast at The Marine.

Learn more about our cultural heritage and see Rosedale’s original Huguenot glass furnace

Ryedale Folk Museum ©VisitBritain/Melody Thornton

The wonderful Ryedale Folk Museum offers an insight into the evolution of rural life in the North York Moors over the centuries. The six-acre outdoor museum includes an Iron Age roundhouse and medieval crofter’s cottage, among many other traditional structures and workshops. It’s also home to the original Huguenot glass furnace worked in Rosedale.

Try making your own glass work of art

Inspired by the Gillies Jones? You can learn some of the skills to create your own unique piece of handblown glass by attending short afternoon courses at Greenwood Crafts, situated in the picturesque village of Hutton le Hole.

Where to enjoy Gillies Jones work in the North York Moors

Gillies Jones Studio, Rosedale Abbey

Gillies Jones studio

Gillies Jones Studio, built in 1827 as the village blacksmiths, is open to visitors all year round, housing a permanent exhibition of studio glass.

Call in and see the glassmakers when they are at work and while they can’t guarantee that glassmaking will be occurring every day, a warm welcome is always available.

Inspired by... gallery at The Moors National Park Centre, Danby

To celebrate their 25th anniversary year, the Inspired by… gallery near Danby featured a Gillies Jones solo exhibition. The exhibition ran from 10 October until 7 November 2020. Learn more on the gallery’s exhibition page.

In addition, the gallery usually holds a number of Gillies Jones glass bowls which are available for purchase.

Find out more about Gillies Jones work

Visit Gillies Jones' stunning website to keep up-to-date with new work and gallery exhibitions. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram to receive previews of their work and studio events.