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Tony Grist

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St Peter, Hascombe [Mar. 13th, 2019|09:14 am]
Tony Grist
OK, not every Victorian church is a horror.

And here's one that isn't. St Peter's, Hascombe was built by Henry Woodyer, the glass and fittings are by Hardman Powell and the person who micro-managed everything was a Medician clergyman called Vernon Musgrave. The work was done over a period of something like 50 years- starting in the 1860s- but is all of a piece. Every surface is decorated. Where much Victorian church architecture feels dutiful- with solemnity standing in for spirituality- St Peter's is clearly a work of love. Everything is bright, stylish, light-hearted, joyful. Look at the fish; aren't they such fun?

Historic England gives the church a grade two listing- which means worth preserving but not much to write home about. Historic England is so wrong. Simon Jenkins, on the other hand, awards it three stars out of a possible five- which is much more like it- and places it high up among the best 1000 churches in the country.





The walls of the nave are hand-painted with a motif of fishes and fishing nets. The designer, whoever they were, must have been looking at Japanese art.



The chancel and high altar are as wonderful as paint and glass and carved wood and gold leaf can make them. "Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth. Heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to Thee, O Lord most high."

Hascombe, by the way, is a tiny village in the Surrey Hills to the south of Guildford. According to Wikipedia the name comes from the Saxon "Haegscombe" which means "Valley of the Witch". Lovely. It was a dark, forgotten nook when Vernon Musgrave accepted the living but as Surrey moved closer and closer to London (the railways, you know) so rich and artistic people started hiding their mansions away in the woods. According to Wikipedia (again) previous and current residents include Dirk Bogarde, Boris Berezkovsky, Anthea Turner and Chris Evans.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2019-03-13 12:49 pm (UTC)
Wow. Those wall paintings are just fabulous... Pretty much the opposite of the usual Victorian heavyhandedness.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-03-13 01:04 pm (UTC)
Whoever did them- and I wish I had a name- understood what medieval art was really about- and was working in a style that paid homage to the past but was clearly contemporary.
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[User Picture]From: puddleshark
2019-03-13 01:11 pm (UTC)
Yes! Exactly.
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[User Picture]From: pondhopper
2019-03-13 03:59 pm (UTC)

There is a rather Byzantine feel to the chancel and high altar especially in the colours. Wonderful place!

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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2019-03-13 04:05 pm (UTC)
My thought was Byzantine too. But it's all beautifully done and so different to the normal heavy, dark Victorian stuff.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-03-13 04:23 pm (UTC)
I imagine medieval European churches all looked fairly Byzantine- but then along came the iconoclasts and got rid of as much colour as they could.
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[User Picture]From: faunhaert
2019-03-14 01:17 am (UTC)
it is nicely done,
there's got to be record of who did it
angels look byzantine
the fish on a tapestry back ground.

maybe they repaired after the protestant gutting
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-03-14 09:33 am (UTC)
There must be a record but I don't know where to look.

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[User Picture]From: idahoswede
2019-03-13 05:25 pm (UTC)
What an absolutely charming church. "Not much to write home about?" I hardly think so.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-03-13 05:55 pm (UTC)
I don't really understand it. It's a very small church- and the grade may have been awarded at a time (the 1950s) when Victorian art was unfashionable- but all the same the interior is not only beautiful but rare.
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[User Picture]From: heliopausa
2019-03-14 02:27 am (UTC)
Oh, my! That chancel is glorious - brilliant liturgical art.

I'm here after having looked at the ship window, and I guess this post answers the question as to who chose the Twelve represented there - it must have been Vernon Musgrave, micro-managing vicar (whose name makes him sound like a Jane Austen character).
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-03-14 09:31 am (UTC)
I imagine Musgrave laid out the whole scheme of decoration. He was rector for nearly half a century- and his word was law. I understand he even designed the gravestones.
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2019-03-14 03:09 pm (UTC)
Historic England is way off base on this one. Like others, I am loving the wall paintings -- although the lion that actually looks like a lion is a dead giveaway that it's not medieval. There's a whole #notalion hashtag on medieval Twitter.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-03-14 03:37 pm (UTC)
It must have been frustrating for medieval artists- the stories they were asked to illustrate were full to bursting with lions yet they'd never seen a real one.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-03-14 03:29 pm (UTC)
Nice!
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[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2019-03-15 04:44 pm (UTC)
Imagine my delight to find a beautiful photo of this very church in my Twitter feed yesterday. And when I commented on it, the person who tweeted it replied with this wonderful series of panoramas:

https://reeddesign.co.uk/panoramas/hascombe.html
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2019-03-15 05:53 pm (UTC)
Those are splendid.
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