Here is a bit of the history behind our many Murals and Paintings we have in the Church. Let’s start with the Paintings on the High Altar as these are the oldest. The first record of them states that in March 1901 Miss Easton donated the High Altar. Made of oak it has three panels separated by four niches. The three panels are the Annunciation, the Adoration of the Lamb and the Ascension. The figures carved in the four niches are the Archangels Gabriel, Michael, Raphael and Uriel. The woodwork and sculpture is by Ralph Hedley and the paintings by James Eadie Reid. Because of the beautiful paintings no provision was made for an Altar Frontal. On 6th April, Easter Eve the Altar was dedicated by the Bishop and used for the first time at 8.00am on Easter Day 1901.
The first mention of the Mural is in 1909 when it is recorded that a gift of a picture for the east wall above the High Altar was announced that year. It was to be The Ascension and to be painted in Paris by J Eadie Reid. In 1910 we read that the vicar and curate Rev’d C Medd visited Paris and were surprised to see how well it was progressing. When fixed to the east wall it would cover the wall above the level of the moulding running just below the windows either side of the chancel. The painting was a gift from Rev C Medd in memory of his father, Charles Septimus Medd (barrister) who died in 1909. The figures in the picture have faces taken from the donor’s family. The Mural is comprised of 5 pieces of canvas adhered to the wall and the overall dimensions are 14ft high x 24ft wide (4.26m x 7.32m).
We must move forward to 1931 to find mention of a Triptych Reredos. (Triptych: a tableau of 3 hinged panels bearing a religious story used as an altar piece. Reredos: a decorative screen or facing on the wall at the back of an altar.) The congregation was asked if they would like to subscribe to a series of carved and coloured figures to be placed as a triptych reredos at the back of the high altar as private memorials. The figures would be apostles, saints, prophets and angels with top row 29 inches high and the second row 33 inches. The reredos would be made in the Hedley workshops and the figures were to cost £17 and £19. It is not noted how many subscribed. It was dedicated by the Bishop on 4th October 1930 along with other several other parts of the building which had been the final phase of construction. Jim Devenport describes the carved wooden statues as 39ins high, painted in gold and in very good condition.
He has listed them:
Top row left to right: St Mark, Blessed Virgin, St Stephen
Bottom row left to right: St Peter, St Andrew, St James
Top centre: Christ in Majesty with two Angels
Top row left to right: Isaiah, Unnamed Angel, Quadrant depicting Michael, Mark, Luke and John, Unnamed Angel, Ezekiel.
Bottom row left to right: St John, St Phillip, St Bartholomew, St Thomas, St Matthew, St James.
Top Row left to right: St Paul, Mary Magdalene, St Luke
Bottom Row left to right: St Thaddeus, St Simon, St Matthias.
In 2017 work was done to clean the Mural at the east end of church above the High Altar as well as the Reredos and the Paintings on the High Altar. The work was carried out by Jim Devenport FIIC, Fine Art Conservation. With the work now complete we were were able to celebrate with the restoration team!