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Tony Grist

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Berwick, East Sussex [Jan. 29th, 2016|11:59 am]
Tony Grist
I've got shepherds on the mind because we were out among the South Downs yesterday and that's sheep country. To quote another verse of the Kipling poem I glanced at a week ago (with reference to Romney Marsh).

I've given my soul to the Southdown grass,
And sheep-bells tinkled where you pass,
Oh, Firle and Ditchling an' ships at sea,
I reckon you keep my soul for me.

Anyway, more pictures,

Here's the little church at Berwick. Notice the snowdrops. It sits alongside a big barrow and the interior has been muralised by several artists of the Bloomsbury group- most notably Duncan Grant. Grant wasn't a wonderful painter and his murals aren't wonderful either- but they have a certain charm and they bring colour and liveliness to what would otherwise be a very plain interior. The second picture shows the pulpit- with delightful flower paintings by Grant after designs by Vanessa Bell who was Grant's lover and Virginia Woolf's sister. Grant and Bell lived just down the road at Charleston farmhouse- and all the Bloomsberries foregathered there and did art and swapped partners and made babies. Grant was a beautiful young man. Remember the photographer I memorialised a few days ago, Alvin Langdon Coburn? Well, scan down his Google page and sooner or later you'll come across images of the most beautiful, girlish young man you've ever seen- and that's Grant. The murals were executed during the war- when Grant no longer looked like that- at the instigation of George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, the most inspirational Anglican churchman of the 20th century- who- we now learn- may also have been a child abuser. The diocese of Chichester has got a lot of stick for outing and shaming Bell without providing any of the evidence for his crimes- and I think it has deserved it; Bell was a saint and hero to many- including myself- and we, his admirers, feel we should be given the facts.

This last picture shows the view from the churchyard gate.


[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2016-01-29 03:03 pm (UTC)
The paintings on the pulpit really do liven it up and I've never seen anything comparable in a church. Ah, the Bloomsbury folk...now that was a lively bunch!
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-01-29 04:11 pm (UTC)
Bishop Bell was keen for the Church to become- once more- a leading patron of the arts. Berwick- where the church interior was plain- and mostly rebuilt by the Victorians- was a good place to try the experiment of giving an artist his head. In the event it's a triumph. Grant's paintings aren't masterpieces, but they create a really cheerful space. I went in, clocked what was on the walls- and smiled.
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[User Picture]From: ooxc
2016-01-30 06:05 pm (UTC)
There's a version around that his accuser was an adult woman. I find that more believable. Either way, it's quite wrong to have published so much smoke without fire.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2016-01-31 05:59 pm (UTC)
An adult woman? But then it ceases to be an offence, doesn't it? If this is merely about the Bishop taking a lover- well- the flesh is weak...

Bell was the nearest thing to a saint the Anglican church has produced in recent years. The church owes him. And should do him justice. It's intolerable that his reputation should be mucked about like this. We need to know the nature of the accusation and also be given some indication as to why the authorities think the accuser credible.
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[User Picture]From: ooxc
2016-01-31 06:06 pm (UTC)
Exactly - although amorous dalliance was seen more seriously, then. Unless, of course, the woman wasn't adult at the time. But I'm rather doing what I'm complaining about - repeating stuff without proof - not satisfactory
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