In 2010 the local History group in Barkby, Leicestershire approached me to work with the whole village to create a large mosaic to commemorate the life of Thomas Marshall who was born in the village in 1621 to the local blacksmith.
Thomas Marshall received an education from the vicar of Barkby Francis Foe. At the age of 19 he studied at Lincoln College at Oxford University graduating when he was 24. He was excused all fees in view of the fact that he joined the regiment of Henry Earl of Dover. Oxford was garrisoned for the King at that time. As the Parliamentarians began to take a hold he felt it more prudent to leave the country and travelled to Holland where he became a preacher. He continued his studies whilst in Holland and wrote several papers on the studies of Anglo Saxon and Gothic versions of the bible. In 1670 King Charles 11 converted to Catholicism and Thomas Marshall was made Rector of his college shortly followed by Chaplain in ordinary to King Charles and accompanied King Charles back to England. After King Charles return to England to reclaim his throne Thomas Marshall became Rector of Bladon near Woodstock and Dean of Gloucester. He died suddenly on Easter Sunday 1685 aged 64 and was buried in College Chapel, All Saints, Oxford.
His portrait is in the Hall of Lincoln College. He left a bequest in his will to Abigail Foe, widow of his much honoured school master.
The history group visited the village school and other village community groups to ask for their ideas for the design of the mosaic. Once all the designs were submitted we all met to choose which elements we wanted incorporated into the mosaic and how best to pull it all together. There were several key symbols we decided to incorporate for example an Oak tree to symbolise the great oak that King Charles hid in during his return. A goose which is the history groups logo, a picture of Thomas Marshall, a horse shoe to symbolise the fact that he was the son of a blacksmith, the village brook and the Pochin family coat of arms to name but a few.
A series of workshops were held where the mosaic was gradually created using a mixture of glass and ceramic tesserae stuck onto mesh. This meant that the mosaic could be made in smaller panels allowing more people the chance to be involved.
The mosaic was part of the villages Oak Apple Day celebrations when an afternoon workshop was held to continue with the making.
Over the next few weeks the mosaic was gradually finished and a tense morning was spent fixing the panels onto marine ply using an external adhesive.
Once dry, the mosaic was grouted and the finished mosaic was unveiled as part of Barkby and Barkby Thorpes Jubilee celebrations.