Search The Web

Custom Search

Abbey Pens

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Kensworth Rollerball Pen

The Kensworth Rollerball Pen is styled in a Flamboyant Balanced Design and is of Very High Quality with Appointments in Rhodium, which I am sure will compliment any Writers Desktop. 

The Kensworth features a Flared Cap and Centre Band Design and benefits from a Very High Quality German ceramic tipped Schmidt® Cartridge affording Dependable Smooth Writing.This instrument is completed by being Hand Turned and Finished in Fools Gold Resin which has been Polished to the Finest Standard and with Precision.

The Pen measures approximately 5.5 inches ( 140mm) in length and is styled with a threaded end cap which allows the pen cap to be attached quickly and easily without losing balance. The Kensworth Rollerball Pen comes secure in a Faux Leather Single Pen case for Protection and ease of carrying.

For more details of this and other handmade pens by Abbey Pens
Please Click HERE

Sunday, April 24, 2011

What Inspired The Steppingley Rollerball Pen Name?

When I began making handmade fountain and rollerball pens, I had to come up with individual names for the separate designs that I decided to make.
As I live in a rural area of Bedfordshire in England, I thought I would name the pens after Villages and Hamlets from around the County.
The Steppingley R Rollerball was inspired by the Village of Steppingley in the Heart of Bedfordshire situated only a few miles from where I live.

Steppingley R Rollerball with Black Titanium appointments and a Bocote Wooden Body 

Steppingley village stands on high ground in the centre of a small parish of about 562ha on the Greensand Ridge. People have lived here for several thousand years, flint tools over 8000 years on have been found in the southwest of the parish. Stepigelai (Steppingley Manor) is mentioned in the Doomsday Book.

Probably the most famous resident of the village was one of the early rectors, John Schorne, who took up office in 1273 (it has been said that the French Horn pub was named after him). He became well known as a healer and was credited with having imprisoned the devil, or demon of pain, in an old boot. He moved to North Marston church in 1283 and when he died North Marston became a place of pilgrimage. Small models of Schorne holding a boot with the devil’s head poking out were sold as pilgrim tokens and this is believed to have been the inspiration for the Jack-in-the-Box, so popular in Victorian times. John Schorne’s remains lie in St George’s Chapel, Windsor.

In the late medieval period the poor quality agricultural land was emparked for hunting and timber production. Beckerings Park lay in the northwest of the parish and Steppingley Park occupied most of the south of the parish. Routes running through the parish were redirected around the parks, restricting further growth of the village.

In the sixteenth century, Beckerings became one of the local deer parks providing entertainment for King Henry VIII. Timber from the park and other parts of Steppingley became the most important element in the village economy at this time and much of it was used to build ships for the navy. Two hundred year’s later, Steppingley was one of a group of parishes in the area with a high proportion of pasture land producing dairy products for the growing London market, which brought a measure of prosperity to the village and an increase in population. Steppingley Kiln (where Kiln Farm stands today) was producing bricks for the local gentry and provided the materials for the Earl of Ossory’s Ampthill Great House in 1762-64.

In 1839 the 7th Duke of Bedford purchased almost all of the parish that he didn’t already own and began a programme of improvements. Hedges were removed to make larger fields, the Church, farm buildings and cottages were rebuilt. A few older buildings survive, but most of Steppingley was created between 1840 and 1872.
Today the village retains much of this character and the conservation status helps to preserve this.

St Lawrence Church at Steppingley was rebuilt in 1860 on the site of an earlier church, which collapsed when repairs were undertaken to rectify an outward leaning wall. The old church was once described as the 'the smallest church in Bedfordshire' by the Gentleman's Magazine, 1849 and the oldest parts of the building, the Norman nave, probably dated from the twelfth century and the chancel from the thirteenth century. However the only portion to have been preserved is part of the sedilia or piscina, which now forms the niche in the sacristy of the present building.

The new church was designed by the architect, Henry Clutton, who also designed the Romanesque church at Woburn, and the rebuilding was financed by the Duke of Bedford and the rector. Built of local red-brown sandstone excavated at Green End, Maulden, it is an example of the Early Decorated and Perpendicular styles of the fourteenth century architecture.
It consists of a chancel, nave, vestry, north aisle and a western tower containing 4 bells. The broad and regular tower is supported by buttresses which terminate half-way up each wall. An embattled newel-turret rises above the tower and below the embattlements are four gargoyles, one at each corner.
St Lawrence Church was restored in 1912 by the Duke of Bedford K.G. at a cost of £1000 and in the course of excavations in the chancel, 531 English and Scotch silver coins of 13th century were found. It is thought that these were offerings of patients of a former rector, John de Schorne, who acquired fame for his healing powers. A popular myth credited him with conjuring the devil into a boot and keeping him there under a restraining hand that allowed only his head to emerge.
The register of the church dates from 1562 but not continuous until after 1647.

Extracts taken from the Steppingley Parish Web Site where more details of the village and amenities are available.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Officer and a Gentleman

             Burr Walnut Campaign Writing Slope Circa 1850

As it’s name suggests; The Campaign Writing  Slope was designed for Gentleman Officers away on campaign during the reign of Queen Victoria, and her predecessors,  affording them a secure place for letters, documents and writing instruments, and a platform to write messages and letters to other Officers in the field and to loved ones back home.

Campaign slopes and other campaign furniture can sometimes be identified by the brass corners and banding that gave added protection during travel, and for their design in being dismantled quickly when on the move.

The intent of the furniture was so that the Gentlemen Officers could enjoy similar comfort to that at home whist away in Foreign Lands of The Empire!

This example of a Campaign Writing Slope which is in good honest condition showing only marks of time being some 160 years old, and was made in England in about 1850.

Due to it’s age it has some tarnishing of the brass and some slight repair has been made at some time to some banding; however appears quite original.

The Burr Walnut veneer remains complete and original with a nice patina, showing only marks and wear commensurate with it’s age.

The base of the slope has received  a black baize replacement which is in good condition.

Once inside the slope, there is a lockable area with a secret compartment which is released by lifting one edge of the right hand side inkwell walls revealing two secret drawers, ideal for small desk items and valuables.

The slope also has a removable pen rest where pens and nibs could be stored beneath, and a sloped area for stamps together two inkwell compartments at either corner which is complete with two original antique Mosleys Revolving inkwells.

The inkwells are in very good condition and are from the same period in square cut glass with a Crown insignia on the brass screw caps which still have an early rubber seal inside of the caps, albeit  they have some wear and ink residue from their previous use.

The lower half of the slope reveals an insecure area for storing writing paper etc, and the writing area itself displays a beautiful  replacement skiver in Black Leather, with gold tooling around the edge.

Both locks are in working order with keys, with the main lock having been recently serviced by Bramah Locksmiths of London.

Bramah were first given their Patent on 21st August 1784 and were sited at Denmark Street in St. Giles London and are still in operation to this day.

Interestingly; during the service of the Bramah lock, the company identified that it was in fact a copy version of their lock which was fitted to furniture following the locks patent ending in 1815.

I was advised that during the period that followed it was a common practice for these locks to be used, and that they were of such a high quality, Bramah continued to repair and service them and were happy to do so on this occasion. 

So the pirating of goods it appears is not a modern practice!

Well I hope you have enjoyed my little insight into a Victorian Campaign Writing Slope which has now been SOLD and gone to a new home in The USA.

Ken McLeod © 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011

For Your Wedding Day

This beautiful Oakley Classic Fountain Pen Handcrafted by Ken McLeod at Abbey Pens has been created with The Wedding Breakfast in mind and suits to be partnered by a Wedding Guest Journal to record that Very Special Occasion.

This Wedding Oakley Classic Fountain Pen has been Hand Turned and Polished using an early form of man made material known as Casein which was pioneered in the late 1800’s as an imitation to horn and semi precious stone and was used to make many products such as buttons, jewellery and Conway Stewart perfected it in the manufacture of their pens; however this material which gives a attractive layered appearance in this example is rarely used today due to its lengthy manufacturing process.

This Wedding Oakley Classic Fountain Pen is complimented with a blend of insets and engraved accent bands in 22Kt Gold, with the use of Rhodium which is part of the Platinum family for bright work brilliance.

This Wedding Oakley Classic Fountain Pen is as distinctive as it’s owner and will undoubtedly become one of their favorite assets and features a Very High Quality German two tone nib with an iridium point affording dependable smooth writing and ink flow, which can delivered by either cartridge or an ink reservoir.

With effortless operation and dependability using the highest quality components, this Wedding Oakley Classic Fountain pen which can also be created in a Rollerball form is a true writers delight, and will become one of the Happy Couples most Treasured Wedding Day keepsakes. 

You can also find other styles of pen that can be used to make a Wedding Pen or a Pen for any Occasion by visiting Abbey Pens where a personal writing instrument can be handmade using any of the options available to your requirements.

Can I thank you for visiting us, and I hope you will return to see us again soon.

Kind regards,


Ken McLeod © 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Standing Out in a Crowd

Hi there to all Our Followers and New Readers.

Today I want to Highlight The Aspley R Rollerball Pen which I have just listed in my Etsy Online Shop.

The Aspley R Rollerball pen has been designed especially to stand out amongst others and to Grace any Gentleman's desk top.

The Pen displays an elegant design, but remains Robust with superb balance, coupled with all the tradition of a fine desk pen, and is complimented using 22k Gold cobalt accents on a Rhodium finish and features a top quality German made ceramic tipped Schmidt® Cartridge for smooth, effortless writing.

This example has a body and cap made of Black Quartz Corian® which is a man made material that has been developed by Dupont® which has resulted in a finely polished black pen which has fine particles that sparkle when subjected to light bringing the pen to life.

With the use Rhodium in this pen which is part of the Platinum group, it offers very durable hard plating and should be expected to retain its brilliance under normal careful use for many years.

This pen measuring approximately 140mm in length with a wide girth is a Substantial Gentleman’s Pen which will become an asset for it’s owner for generations to come.

Well that’s an insight to The Aspley R Rollerball Pen in Rhodium and Black Quartz Corian, so may I Thank You for taking the time to read this Blog, and if you want to take the opportunity of purchasing this wonderful pen, it can be found at my Etsy Online Shop.

Until the next time!
Ken McLeod © 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A Piece of Royal Navy History

HMS Boscawen was ordered by The Royal Navy on 11th May 1817, with the hull of the ship being laid down at the Woolwich Dockyard in England in January 1826.

The fully rigged, 70 gun sail ship was constructed in English Oak and finally launched on 3rd April 1844 and named after a Royal Navy Admiral Edward  Boscawen.

With a gun deck of 187 ft 4½ in (57.1 m) in length and weighing in at 2212 tons, the ship served in the Baltic during The Russian War under Captain William Fanshawe Glanville and in the late 1850’s was on the West African Coast and acted flag ship under the Captaincy of Richard Ashmore Powell, in The British attempt at disrupted the slave trade, primarily being engaged in by The French who used the term of “emigration cruises” to attract would be native emigrants to their colonies, and The Americas.

During that time, The Royal Navy calculated that if traders prepared 12 slave ships and that 10 were taken by British Cruisers, a significant profit was still to be made with slaves being purchased for as little as £4 each and sold for as much as £200 each.

Wellesley's Band & Ships Company
HMS Boscawen remained in the anti slavery role until returning back to English waters in the 1860’s, when on the 5th March 1862 she became a training ship in Southampton England.

In 1874 HMS Boscawen was renamed The Training Ship 'Wellesley' and was stationed on the Tyne at North Shields in North East England and provided accommodation for 300 boys under Naval training.

Training Ship 'Wellesley' also had an auxiliary shore establishment, known as Green's House, in Mile End Road, South Shields, which could  accommodate up to 60 boys.

Back in those times the boys were received for on shore training as early as 7 years of age, and then transferred to the ship on reaching the age of 12.

The Wellesley Training Ship Institution had been established in 1868 by a group of philanthropic Tyneside businessmen, led by James Hall, to provide shelter for Tyneside waifs and to train young men for service in both The Royal and Merchant Navies.

The ex-frigate HMS Cornwall was originally used as their training ship; however it was in 1874 that the institution took over the then aging wooden battleship HMS 'Boscawen' which was then renamed 'Wellesley'.

Unfortunately The 'Wellesley' training ship was destroyed by fire on 11 March 1914 at North Shields England and the school moved ashore becoming the Wellesley Nautical School.

Following some of the Oak timber being salvaged from the wreck of Royal Navy Training Ship Wellesley; a beautiful Oak Desk blotter was hand made in or about 1914.

The handle was turned and carved in the shape of one of the ships Capstans, and a wooden thread turned enabling the desk blotter to be easily dismantled into three parts to allow replacement of the blotting paper.

A small engraved cartouche which appears to be made in copper, was attached to one of the sides of the desk blotter with the following inscription:

“Made from Timber taken from HMS Wellesley, Training Ship on the Tyne, Destroyed by Fire 11th MAR 1914”

The Desk Blotter Measures  approximately 5 inch (127mm) long by 3 inch (76mm) wide by 4.5 inch (115mm) high, and is a beautiful accessory with a Royal Navy History.


Many thanks for visiting us and I hope you have enjoyed reading this brief history of HMS Boscawen which later became HMS Wellesley.
Please feel free to Follow our blog and return to visit us again soon.

Ken McLeod © 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Keep it Turning

I find making one of my handmade pens a rewarding challenge that takes comparative patience and can be quite time consuming; however results in a unique one off writing instrument that is as unique as it’s owner.

The pens that I am currently making involve the use of wood and various resins or plastics.

Whatever you choose to make the body of the pen has to be capable of being turned on a lathe and it is in general the preparation of the material you decide to use that takes the majority of time involved.

In this blog, I am going to run briefly through the stages of making one of my Aspley Pens.

The process is generally the same for either a fountain pen or rollerball, with just the components used being variant.

The choice of design and material is a personal thing which in itself makes the pen so unique.

In this case I have chosen components that create The Aspley Classic Rollerball Pen, which offer an appointment finish in Rhodium, a bright and very durable white metal plating which is part of the Platinum family of precious metals.

Plated rhodium is very hard and has a high reflectance, which makes it great for optical instruments, jewellery and accessories such as pens.

I have also chosen a seasoned piece of African Blackwood for the main body of the pen.

Firstly the quality of the materials must be of the highest standard available, and I endeavour to use the same suppliers who have proved consistent in quality supply previously.

It is important that the wood is seasoned well and treated with a wax seal at end grain to prevent moisture fluctuation within the piece prior to turning which could result in the sample splitting or cracking.

Most of the pen components are visible in the finished article except the brass tube centre of the pen which is inserted within the wooden body, and is the main skeleton into which the pen components are pressed after turning.

The length of the pen is determined by these tubes, and in this case there are two tubes involved; one for the main body of the pen and the other for the cap.

The wooden sample is firstly cut into two lengths, one for each tube and is left slightly longer than the brass tube to allow for trimming and squaring off accurately.

A centralised hole is then drilled through the length of each piece of wood, ensuring square drilling throughout for an accurate fit of the brass tubes which are then secured in place with a strong adhesive.

Once this is achieved and the tubes are securely adhered into the wood, the ends of the wood are squared and trimmed to the length of the brass tubes which ensures a snug fit of the pen components upon assembly.

The two pieces that have now been marked to ensure the best grain match upon later assembly, are then fitted onto a spindle using bushes unique to the pen component design, which determines the limits to which you can turn down the wood.

The turning of the wood can now commence and the shape of the pen be determined.

Throughout the making of the pen, protective clothing and safety glasses are used as high powered machinery and very sharp tools are constantly in use.

As the wood is turned with the use of various chisels, it is initially turned into a round and then more delicately shaped into the desired shape of the pen.

I tend to shape into a barrel style which I find provides a well balanced pen resting comfortably between thumb and index finger.

Once the wood is turned into the desired shape, the samples are then sanded using up to fifteen grades of abrasives to provide a very smooth surface, then sealed and polished using approximately six layers of wax.

The turning and polishing now over, the pen is ready for assembly.

Ensuring that the grain is lined up to match on both the body and the cap of the new pen; the components are then carefully pressed into position using a special press that ensures parts are added squarely and accurately.

The result is a beautiful unique rollerball pen destined to become the trusty servant of it’s new owner for years to come.

I hope that you have enjoyed this brief insight into what goes into making one of my pens.

Visit my Handmade Abbey Pens Shop to find a pen of your choice, available for immediate delivery.

Ken McLeod © 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Quality Counts

Victorian travel involved meticulous preparation as journeys by ship and train could prove to be quite lengthy.
As the traveller in general required large quantities of personal property to be transported, well made luggage and trunks to survive the journey were required, and many British luggage makers were in existence at that time to oblige the need.
One such manufacturer was a Highly Reputable English Victorian and Edwardian Luggage maker known as W Insall and Sons.

W Insall and Sons was established in about 1829 and was a highly regarded West Country luggage maker situated at 19 and 20 St. Augustine’s Parade Bristol England.
The business was housed in a large double fronted premises with the name of the company and Luggage and Trunk Manufacturers in huge letters displayed on the upper stories of the building.
The most common material used by The Victorian and Edwardian luggage makers was leather, which was tanned to assist in preservation of the piece; however with the advent of air travel, the use of such substantial luggage declined, as with the quality of the leather and brass came weight, which was unsuitable for modern travel.

Today, Vintage luggage with a patina showing each small knock adds to it’s character and provenance and at my Etsy Shop you can find a very fine example of a W Insall and Sons Suitcase of excellent quality made of fine leather with a canvas lining which is in excellent condition with only the marks of time and careful use in evidence.


Measuring 24 x 15 x 8.5 imperial inches or 610mm x 381mm x 216mm, and weighing 13.98 imperial pounds or 6.34 Kg; this beautiful Piece of English Luggage would still serve as a fully Serviceable Travel Companion or as an Ideal Prop for Stage or Screen Today.

Quality certainly Counts, and they don’t make them like this anymore alas!
Ken McLeod © 2011

What Inspired The Aspley Fountain Pen Name?

When I began making handmade fountain and rollerball pens, I had to come up with individual names for the separate designs that I decided to make.
As I live in a rural area of Bedfordshire in England, I thought I would name the pens after Villages and Hamlets from around the County.
The Aspley was inspired by the Village of Aspley Guise in the Heart of Bedfordshire situated only a few miles from where I live.
Situated amongst sandy hills on the edge of the pinewoods of Aspley Heath, Aspley Guise has been lucky to have survived the ravage of time and has three historic houses still remaining that are worthy of note.
Aspley House surrounded by beautiful grounds was built in 1695 having been designed by Christopher Wren and was refitted again in about 1750.
Guise House and its grounds were home to The Aspley Classical Academy in the eighteenth century, which was a school said to rival Eton and Harrow in it’s day.
The Old House is a beautiful  timbered building and dates from 1575; however later succumbed to some Georgian alterations.
The village benefits from many charming examples of early Georgian architecture, and is proud of the 15th Century Parish Church named St Botolph which was largely rebuilt in early Victorian times; however retains a medieval screen and 15th Century brasses.
The Aspley Gentleman’s Fountain Pen has been designed especially to stand out amongst others just like the Village of Aspley Guise itself, and to Grace any Gentleman's desk top with its elegant design, but remains Robust with superb balance, and is coupled with all the tradition of fine desk pens, and is complimented using 22k Gold cobalt accents on a Rhodium finish.
The Aspley Fountain Pen features a Very High Quality German two tone nib with an iridium point affording dependable smooth writing and ink flow, and is delivered by either cartridge or an ink reservoir.
The Aspley Classic Fountain Pen is in support of The Aspley Gentleman’s Fountain Pen and uses the exact same materials with a slightly altered nib holder design in a slightly slimmer and shorter version, and is very versatile due to it’s more discrete size; but looses none of the punch of it’s bigger stable partner!

I hope you have enjoyed reading this short blog, and that you continue to follow us.
Kind regards,
Ken McLeod © 2011