Saturday, 9 May 2020

The Church Across the Valley

The unique little church of 'All Saints' sits beneath a large area of Common land. We can just see it from our hilltop spot on the far side of one of our valleys. 

It is not a typical 15th century Cotswold wool church as it was built in 1861. It was designed by the eminent Victorian architect, G.F Bodley for local, wealthy, cloth and mill owner, Sir Samuel Marling, a noted philanthropist.
Marling requested that the church design be modelled on a church that he had visited at Marling in the Austrian Tyrol, but it appears that Bodley has designed a fusion of both Austrian and French design. The resulting church, however, sits happily in our Cotswold landscape, but it could sit equally well in the Austrian Tirol or for that matter in France. Its distinctive saddleback tower and French Gothic gables have all been built using local Cotswold stone along with Bathstone dressings.
An old postcard of the church at Marling dated 1908
The church became one of the most important early works for G.F Bodley and of great significance in the development of high Victorian architecture. 
However, of major importance, is the fact that this was the very first church in this country to exhibit the work of the English Arts and Craft movement, and most important of all, inside are the very first stained glass windows ever to be commissioned from William Morris.
Entrance from the west door. 
The above Creation window is the work of Philip Webb, but the roundel of Adam and Eve in the garden was the work of William Morris (to the left of the central Christ in Majesty roundel).
Victoria and Albert Decanter
Morris and company were formed in the year that the church building commenced. A partnership between Morris, Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Philip Webb. Their capital was £20 each plus £100 from Morris's mother. The windows in this church are really important because they involved all of the partners. The outcome is an exquisite Pre-Raphaelite gallery of their early work.
The Resurrection is by Burne-Jones. It echoes Piero della Francesca's fresco, seen many years ago, when I visited the Museo Civico, in Sansepolcro, Italy.
via wiki
A small detail from a window showing St. Paul preaching in Athens, which is the work of William Morris. The detail shows an image of Jane Morris, who was his wife.
Adam naming the beasts
Two of the roundels from the large Creation window designed by Philip Webb. Philip Webb was the architect who designed the 'Arts and Craft' house known as the Red House for William Morris, in Bexleyheath, Southeast London.
The birds of the air, and the fish of the sea
Detail from Sermon on the Mount by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Christ in this window is George Meredith (novelist and poet). The Virgin Mary is Christina Rossetti (Dante's sister). Mary Magdalene is Fanny Cornforth (one of Rossetti's favourite models). The figure immediately behind Christ is Judas Iscariot and shows a depiction of a man called Gambart. He was a London picture dealer, and very much disliked by all of the Brotherhood.
William Burgess, one of England's greatest Victorian architects and designers, was commissioned to design a collection of silver for the church, which was then made by George Hart of London. One of his most famous architectural buildings was Cardiff Castle. He was inspired by medieval England and Gothic Revival styles, the Arts and Crafts movement, and the Pre-Raphaelites. 
When we first moved to the Cotswolds over 20 years ago, Burgess's exquisite silver could still be seen on display during special occasions, but now it is firmly locked away in some secret silver vaults. It is now far too valuable for the church to hold.

An example of William Burgess silver held by the V & A, London. 

51 comments:

  1. WOW that is absolutely beautiful! We love visiting churches, monasteries, abbeys and the like. Perhaps one day we will get a holiday down there and be able to visit it. Your wonderful detail about the window thrilled me. Best, Jane x

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    1. I like to know more about what I am seeing, so knowing who is represented within the windows makes it far more interesting for me.

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  2. I like your historical posts with the stories of long ago.It feels like reading a book! It is such a beautiful place overthere.

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    1. I am pleased that you enjoyed the post - thank you.

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  3. Hello Rosemary, What a chance to see the contributions of so many famous Arts-and-Crafts artists combined in one masterwork. Seeing Jane Morris' image again in the window, I had to look up her photographs, and she really does look just like her paintings!
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - yes, Jane had a very distinctive look and appearance which was much admired by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.

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  4. I suspect that few people know of this little treasure tucked away in the Cotswolds, but I know that if Jeanie Croope from Lansing, Michigan reads your blog she will add this to her bucket list for her next visit to your area!

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    1. It is a little treasure David, and not easy to find especially if you are unfamiliar with the area. By the way I don't know of anyone called Jeanie Croope.

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    2. She is a charming and entertaining blogger who lives in Lansing, Michigan, and is a confirmed anglophile. She was unhappy when Covid-19 put the kaibosh to her trip this year.

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  5. That is a lovely view.
    The church is nice and looking good inside.
    Thanks for sharing it.
    Take care.

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    1. It sits in a delightful spot and is a little treasure trove of architecture, stained glass windows, silver, stonework, and woodwork.

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  6. Have you ever seen the Watts memorial chapel near Farnham, Surrey?

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    1. Yes, as you know my husband comes from that area, so I have visited the chapel several times and always love to return. I did a post on it many moons ago which you might be interested to see.
      https://wherefivevalleysmeet.blogspot.com/2012/02/watts-cemetery-chapel-compton-surrey.html

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  7. What exquisite stained glass! I didn't know the Pre-Raphaelites worked in stained glass, but why should I be surprised?

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    1. There are many churches in this country that have stained glass windows done by the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and Morris & Company, but this was their very first commission.

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  8. What a lovely and interesting church.   I had no idea William Morris ever did such work. I am of course particularly drawn to that fascinating silver piece. What a shame it has to be locked away. 

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    1. Hello Catherine - that particular piece of silver is actually viewable as it belongs to the V&A museum, but sadly the silver that he made for All saints is no longer seen. To give you an example of William Burgess's work, a small brooch designed by him turned up at an auction 10 years ago, and it was bought by the V&A for £31,000.

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  9. What a beautiful church. The stained glass is wonderful, I especially like Adam's strategically placed lion.

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    1. I hadn't considered that, but as you say, the lion is strategically placed!

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  10. Oh how enjoyable, to follow you as you moved from that distant view of the church, then inside and especially the beautiful glass designs. I am so glad that you wrote the details about who made it, and who is depicted in each window. Thank you so much!

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    1. I appreciate your kind comment Barbara - thank you.

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  11. Dearest Rosemary,
    What a treasure of a Church building to have nearby!
    We of course lack all those antique and meaningful architectural Church buildings here.
    Only in Florida you can find them of several ages old.
    Thanks for sharing all the art work!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    1. Dear Mariette - you will of course have been familiar with buildings from antiquity when you were growing up in the Netherlands and also during your time living in Italy too. We are fortunate in Europe that so much medieval and historical architecture and artwork still survives.

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  12. What a treasure trove of history and art the little church contains. There is so much to learn at every corner in England, and in all of Europe.

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    1. I feel fortunate to have so much history that I can still visit right on my doorstep.

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  13. What a wonderful little church and I love that piece of silver at the end. Thank you.

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    1. The silverware shown is not from the church but is in the V & A although it is in Burgess's very unique style too.

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  14. A most remarkable church and quite unique. I am always delighted by the ecclesiastical treasures that are everywhere to be found in the English countryside.I hope the church is kept open? I am always sad to find them locked up - they cease to be living places and become rather more like museums, even though I know what a lot of problems there can be with keeping a church open. And the silverware is super - I'm surprised it's not kept in the local museum at any rate, it's so sad for such craftsmanshp to be held in a dark vault and never seen. INteresting post, thank you.

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    1. I am happy to say that this little church is open every day. In fact all of the churches around here are as I have never found even one that is still locked.
      I think that the silver is even far too valuable for our small local museum to hold. A piece of Wm Burgess jewellery, a small brooch discovered on the Antique Roadshow, sold over 10 years ago for £31,000.

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  15. What a treat to have this wonderful church in your area Rosemary. I enjoyed the photos so much, going back over them a few times, recognising the faces of Christina Rossetti, Fanny Cornforth and Janey Morris from the many paintings in which they have featured. The church building is so unusual, and one can definitely see the French influence in the golden local stone. The interior shot of the West door is spectacular with the Creation window. Thank you for showing, and I hope one day I can visit!

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    1. Really pleased that you enjoyed seeing this little church Patricia - I am particularly pleased that you also recognised the people in the windows too.

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  16. Really nice church and history. (by the way anyone using Firefox now to comment on blogger might get Security blocked message. Using Chrome search engine instead fixes the problem. Why do they always change things that already function? ) Adding this in case others get the same message. Best wishes bob.

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    1. It is indeed a lovely church Bob, which sits in a beautiful location. I am replying to your comment on Firefox and do not have a problem here. I thought that I would just try Firefox out having read your comment although I tend to use Chrome to do my posts.
      What I have particularly noticed that the colour of the images is far too bright on Firefox compared with that on Chrome.

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    2. PS I wonder if it is because you do not have the latest version of Firefox - may be you need to update it.

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  17. Dear Rosemary,
    What a beautiful little church. The small window in the right front is so unusual. Dos it have a meaning?
    That old tree is magnificent and what a stunning view you have.

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    1. Dear Gina - are you referring to all of the roundel windows which make up the Creation window?

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    2. It's the little window in picture No. 3 which straddles the line from upper to lower. It has a sharp Gothic arch.

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    3. That is a small arched stone inset which contains a sculptural relief Gina, and it sits above a memorial to Sir Samuel Marling.

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    4. Thank you Rosemary. An architectural feature I had not seen before.

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    5. Now you mention it Gina, I think that it is an exterior feature that I too haven't seen before.

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  18. As always, such stunning scenery and great history shared with us, thank you dear Rosemary.
    Wishing you a happy US Mother's Day, even though you've already had your Mothering Sunday of course - and hoping the sun is shining so you can sit in your garden and recall all the special Mother's Days, yet again, we've had over the years.
    Warm hugs - Mary

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    1. Dear Mary - it is a delightful little church which I was so thrilled to discover when we first moved here. Wm Morris was prolific in the Cotswolds as it is where he had his country home called Kelmscott.
      Happy US Mother's Day to you - hope that Bob is looking after you and giving you a happy day.

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    2. He did - and we had fun in our daughter Kim's garden on Sunday afternoon.

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  19. A fabulous silver piece at the end, but also beautiful painted windows and other than that a not overdecorated church , very charming in it's simplicity.

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    1. Glad that you enjoyed seeing this little church Jane.

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  20. Thank you, Rosemary: that is very, very impressing!
    While a month ago I was still optimistic that in September my friend Anne and I would make our promised tour to England, I am not so sure now - but when I read your words and see the beautiful pictures, I have something to dream on... Best wishes to you! Britta

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    1. Dear Britta - we are at the very bottom of the pile in this area concerning the number of people with Covid-19, as has been the case from the beginning of the Pandemic. However, Boris has just announced that anyone entering the country will have to be in quarantine for two weeks. This is not the time to travel around, maybe next year we can hope for a return of some normality again.
      Sending best wishes to you too.

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  21. Dear Rosemary - You have a great view from your hilltop. Seeing from the #2 photo, people at the church would be able to spot people on the hilltop. The little church is so fascinating. This is the kind of church I’d like to visit. I especially like the view of the west door (#5 image).

    Yoko

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    1. We are very fortunate Yoko as we have views across several different valleys from our hilltop.

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