Busbridge near Godalming,  Surrey  -  St John the Baptist Church
19th century

Click on photos to enlarge.
Notes in italics from Surrey by Ian Nairn and Nikolaus Pevsner, Revised by Bridget Cherry (1971),
Yale University Press, New Haven and London.

The church and churchyard contains several objects designed by Lutyens, including the grave of
Gertrude Jekyll (at bottom of page) who lived at the nearby Munstead Wood, designed by Lutyens.

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By Scott, probably G.G. Jun. (George Gilbert Scott, the Younger), 1865-7, as it is a good example of the masculine style and response to the genius loci of this rare architect. Bargate stone, very pretty shingled central tower, gabled transept ends (an architectural composition of lancets) without the transepts to go with them, i.e. simply in the line of the nave walls, giving some odd cross-lighting effects inside.

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Inside of the non-existent 'transept'. Then nave and chancel, looking east. The altar frontal is by William Morris c.1870. Last picture is looking west. The inside space firm but flavourless, and hence not a bad vehicle for the late C19 additions done under the influence of Gertrude Jekyll. 

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First the stained glass in E (1st row) and W windows (2nd row) by Burne-Jones, made by Morris & Co., 1899, with familiar blues and greens. The W window is especially effective with its cinquefoil roundel above filled with a delightful pattern of foliage. (The chancel S windows have Morris & Co. glass of 1905 ... 3rd row). 

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Far more remarkable the mysterious and moving rood and chancel screen combined, made in iron by J. Starkie Gardner from designs by Lutyens of 1897, installed in 1899. It fills the upper parts of the knobbly Middle Pointed chancel arch, a system of slender uprights ending in mid air in a complex set of loops and scrolls and supporting, clear of the frame, Christ with outstretched arms above two kneeling angels face to face - the latter the favourite Art Nouveau composition acting as the roots of a tree-like composition which leads to the figure of Christ above. With exquisite calculation Lutyens arranged that the composition is always seen against the dark chancel roof, to increase the sense of mysterious transparency, and then adjusted the forward projection of the figure of Christ so that it always dominates while still remaining part of the composition. In the end perhaps the calculation is too exquisite; a pretty religious fairy-tale, remote from reality. Perhaps there was some blockage in Lutyens which always prevented him making the leap from wit to true feeling. The quality of the carving is hard to see from ground level but it is probably fairly sweet. Luxurious marble slabs set into a small stone screen below, increasing the sense of contrast. They must also be by Lutyens.  

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In the churchyard a war memorial by Lutyens, 1920-2, slim and elegant, with the same over-developed sense of volumetric relations as his Cenotaph in Whitehall. Also by Lutyens tombs to Gertrude Jekyll, died 1932, and Sir Herbert Jekyll, died 1932, and his wife, died 1937: three tomb slabs in front and an intricate composition of an urn and stone balustrade behind, oddly like Soane translated into the blunt obtuse forms of the 1930s.


Munstead Wood - Lutyens' house for Gertrude Jekyll

The Lutyens Trust - more about Edwin Lutyens


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