The Essex Churches Site

 

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Holy Innocents, Lamarsh

Lamarsh

Lamarsh south porch
Lamarsh Lamarsh Mad King Ludwig's tower

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  Lamarsh sits on what my father-in-law calls 'the back road' from Sudbury to Bures, and anyone using it for the first time might be surprised to encounter the somewhat surreal apparition of Holy Innocents church. This is a round-towered church, and the entire building is encased in a pleasing cream render like icing on a cake, offsetting the red roofs rather nicely. The top of the tower was surmounted in the 1880s with an elaborate octagonal spire-like cap with a ring of fairytale lucarnes which are so prominent that they become dormer windows. The architect was Arthur Blomfield, who was not usually given to such fantasies. The effect is of a tower broken off of one of Mad Ludwig of Bavaria's castles, which as you may imagine I like very much.

The church is open every day in normal times, and you step into a wide, pleasing interior, perfect to set off the two great features of the church. One is a long 15th Century roodscreen, beautifully elegant with bubbly tracery. It is stripped and varnished, so there is no surviving paint, but even so, it is lovely. And beyond it is a beautiful curiosity. The east window was three wide-spaced lancets, typical of Bloomfield. However, they have been filled with beautiful Arts and Crafts Movement glass by Mary Lowndes, perhaps the leading female artist in any medium of the last years of the 19th and first years of the 20th centuries. She is best known today for her work for the suffragette movement - she designed their posters. These are huge, near-floor-to-ceiling lancets, but what makes them more remarkable is that she did not do them all in one go, coming back over a period of almost 20 years to complete the three windows.

The central lancet features the Cruciixion, with Mary Magdalene mourning at the foot of the cross. Above is the Lamb of God, and below the Flight into Egypt and the Massacre of the Holy Innocents. The window remembers Charles Butler Teesdale and his wife Barbara, and Teesdale may have been responsible for the dedication of the church which this last subject depicts. The lancet on the north side has the Annunciation set above St Barbara sitting in front of the tower of Lamarsh church, a tower being her symbol. In the south lancet, the Nativity is set above St Christopher striding across the river with the Christ Child on his back. Perhaps it is even the nearby River Stour. All these scenes are wound about with Lowndes' familiar vinework, and all in all it is probably the best pre-WWI 20th Century glass in the whole of Essex.

Simon Knott, April 2021

               

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looking east sanctuary looking west
Crucifixion (Mary Lowndes, 1895) sanctuary Mary Lowndes 1896, 1895, 1913 When thou Passest thro the waters I will be with thee (Mary Lowndes, 1916)
St Barbara and Lamarsh church (Mary Lowndes, 1896) Flight into Egypt (Mary Lowndes, 1895) St Christopher and the Christ child (Mary Lowndes, 1913)
in terra pax (Mary Lowndes, 1913) agnus dei (Mary Lowndes, 1895) Slaughter of the Holy Innocents (Mary Lowndes, 1895)
Annunciation (Mary Lowndes, 1897) Mary Magdalene at the foot of the cross (Mary Lowndes, 1895) Infant Christ (Mary Lowndes, 1916) Joseph and Mary at the Nativity (Mary Lowndes, 1916)
Elizabeth, widow of Charles Teesdale died 19th November 1913 (Mary Lowndes, 1916) Charles Baker Teesdale, rector of this church for 22 years (Mary Lowndes, 1895) Barbara Teesdale died 1896 aged 41 (Mary Lowndes, 1897)

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