04 September 2015

Two churches in Cambridge are among
the best architectural works by GF Bodley

All Saints’ Church on Jesus Lane is one of the best-preserved Victorian Anglo-Catholic Gothic Revival churches in England (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

Patrick Comerford

George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907) was one of the most important architects of the Tractarian Movement, and he is associated with at least two architecturally important churches in Cambridge, both of which I visited this week, as well as 1891 Queens’ College chapel (1891), and the decoration of the old hall.

Bodley was a pupil of Sir George Gilbert Scott. He opened his own practice in 1855, and in all he designed or restored over 100 cathedrals and churches in the Gothic Revival style, favoured by AWN Pugin and of whom Scott was among the great exponents.

Bodley’s biographer Michael Hall argues he “fundamentally shaped the architecture, art, and design of the Anglican Church throughout England and the world” (George Frederick Bodley and the Later Gothic Revival in Britain and America, Yale University Press, 2012).

Bodey’s churches in Staffordshire include the Church of the Holy Angels, Hoar Cross (1871-1872), Mission Church, Hadley End (1901), and Saint Chad’s Church, Burton-on-Trent (1903-1910).

All Saints’ Church seen from the front gate of Jesus College (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

All Saints’ Church in Jesus Lane is one of the best-preserved Victorian Anglo-Catholic Gothic Revival churches in England, with some of the finest interior decorations of the period. Although this was Bodley’s first church in the Decorated Gothic style of the early 14th century (1300-1320), it was one of his most successful and would become his favourite.

The church stands opposite Jesus College, beside Westcott House and just a few steps away from the Jesus Lane Gate which is below the rooms I had this week in Cloister Court, Sidney Sussex College.

Although All Saints was built in 1863-1864, the parish is much older and dates back to the Middle Ages. The original church stood on a site opposite Trinity College and close to the Divinity Schools. This site, now marked by a triangular piece of open land with a memorial cross, stood in the old Jewish quarter of Cambridge, and the church was known as All Saints in the Jewry.

The patronage of All Saints was held from the 13th century by Saint Radegunde’s Nunnery. The nunnery became Jesus College in 1497, and after that the Vicars of All Saints were appointed by Jesus College.

Through the centuries, the old church was rebuilt and restored on several occasions, but the site was cramped and dark, and by the mid-19th century the parishioners realised it would be impossible to enlarge the building.

Jesus College, as patron of the living, donated a site for a new church in Jesus Lane, and although Gilbert Scott was the first choice as architect the commission was awarded eventually to Bodley.

The work of William Morris can be found throughout All Saints’ Church (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The foundation stone for the new church was laid on 27 May 1863, the church was consecrated on 30 November 1864, and the new church, with its tower and spire, was completed between 1869 and 1871.

When the spire was completed, All Saints was the tallest building in Cambridge, until the Roman Catholic Church was built. Although both have since been out-passed by the chimney of Addenbrooke’s Hospital, the spire of All Saints remains a landmark that can be seen from parts throughout Cambridge, with great bulk of the church rising majestically above the surrounding buildings and landscape.

The tower and spire are modelled on the tower and spire of the parish church in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, and the design of Ashbourne influenced many other details Bodley introduced to All Saints.

Bodley was closely associated with William Morris and much of the interior decoration is the work of his partnership, Morris, Marshall, Faulkner and Co, for whom this was one of the first architectural commission in a Bodley church.

The Morris work in All Saints includes the spectacular stained-glass East Window. Later decorations are the work of the studios of the Tractarian artist, Charles Eamer Kempe (1837-1907) and the Cambridge-based studio of Frederick Leach.

Kempe had studied architecture under Bodley, and also designed windows for Lichfield Cathedral and Christ Church, Lichfield, as well the colourful triptych that forms the reredos of the altar in the Lady Chapel in Lichfield Cathedral. The Cambridge Church Historian, Owen Chadwick, who died earlier this summer, says Kempe’s work represents “the Victorian zenith” of church decoration and stained glass windows.

Bodley devised all the wall paintings in the nave of All Saints, the nave aisle, the sanctuary, and the east end of the south chancel aisle.

The walls and roofs are decorated with colourful stencil patterns, in red, green and gold, with pomegranates and seeds used as a sign of the Resurrection, monograms of IHS and IHC for Christ and a crowned M for the Virgin Mary, as well as inscriptions from the Psalms, the Beatitudes and the Book of Revelation.

The ceiling is decorated with symbols of the Four Evangelists, and the roof of the nave and south nave aisle are the work of FR Leach, who carried out much of his work at his own expense. The tempera painting of Christ in Glory, flanked by his mother and Saint John the Evangelist and surrounded by angels, is the work of Wyndham Hope Hughes and was restored by Leach’s son, BM Leach.

The pulpit was designed by Bodley in 1864 and has panels painted with saints (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The pulpit was designed by Bodley in 1864 and the panels were painted by Wyndham Hope Hughes in 1875. They show Saint Peter, Saint John the Baptist and Saint John Chrysostom.

The oak chancel screen was designed by the Cambridge architect John Morley and is the work of Rattee and Kent. The rood beam was fitted to act as a girder to counteract a structural weakness in the base of the tower. On it stands a great cross decorated with emblems of the Four Evangelists.

Below the tower, in the chancel, the choir stalls were also designed by Bodley.

The East Window is one of the great treasures of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The East Window was made in 1866 as a memorial to Lady Affleck, wife of the Master of Trinity College and the woman who had laid the foundation stone of the church in 1863.

This window is one of the great treasures of the Pre-Raphaelite Movement, with 20 figures designed by Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Madox Brown and William Morris. The whole work was assembled by Morris & Co.

Three Cambridge theologians commemorate three vicars of All Saints (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The nave windows include one designed by Kempe as a memorial to three former vicars and showing three saintly Cambridge Anglicans: the priest poet George Herbert, the theologian Bishop Brooke Foss Westcott and the missionary Henry Martyn.

The monument to Dean Luckock in the West Wall (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

One of those Vicars, Herbert Mortimer Luckock (1833-1909), was Vicar of All Saints 1862-1863 and again in 1865-1875, and later became Dean of Lichfield (1892-1909). He is also commemorated by a Carrara marble memorial on West Wall which shows him vested in choir robes and kneeling at prayer.

The window celebrating women in the church was placed in 1944 (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The last addition to the church was a window celebrating womanhood which was erected in the nave in 1944. The four great women depicted in the window are Elizabeth Fry, the Quaker prison reformer, Josephine Butler, the bishop’s wife who worked with prostitutes and called for social reforms, Mother Cecile Isherwood, who founded a community of nuns in South Africa, and Nurse Edith Cavell, who was killed in World War I.

With a decline in the number of resident parishioners, the church closed when the last vicar, the Revd Hereward Hard, retired in 1973, and the parish was merged with the Parish of the Holy Sepulchre at the Round Church.

The church is now vested in the Churches Conservation Trust, and it used by Cambridge Presbyterian Church on Sundays and occasionally by Westcott House and the Cambridge Theological Federation.

The chancel of Saint Botolph’s was rebuilt by Bodley (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The other Cambridge church associated with Bodley is Saint Botolph’s Church on Trumpington Street, beside Corpus Christi College and close to Little Saint Mary’s Church. Like All Saints, it too has windows by Kempe.

Saint Botolph, an abbot from East Anglia who lived in the seventh century, is the patron saint of travellers, and this church once stood at the South Gate or Trumptington Gate of Cambridge, used by travellers arriving from or leaving for London, or travellers from the west who crossed the River Cam where Silver Street Bridge now stands.

There may have been a Saxon church on this site in the past, and it certainly was the site of a Norman church. The nave and aisles of the present church were built in the early 14th century, ca 1320, the period that was influential in Bodley’s design of All Saints’ Church.

The tower was built in the 15th century, as were the west end of the nave, the south chapel and the south porch, as well as the carved rood screen separating the nave from the chancel.

This is only mediaeval rood screen to survive in an ancient parish church in Cambridge. The panels were painted in the 19th century with images of the Archangel Gabriel (left or north side) and the Virgin Mary (right or south side), and together they tell the story of the Annunciation.

The mediaeval font has a restored Laudian cover and canopy (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The mediaeval font near the tower and the west porch has an elegant, octagonal Laudian wooden cover and canopy that date from 1637.

Bodley was invited to rebuild the chancel of Saint Botoloph’s in 1872, and he brought with him two local artists, GR Leach, who was also working at All Saints, and G Gray, to carry out the high Victorian decoration of the chancel.

The north window in the chancel commemorates the Revd Dr William Magan Campion (1820-1896), Rector of Saint Botolph’s and President of Queens’ College, who was born in Port Laoise (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

The north window in the chancel is a memorial the Revd Dr William Magan Campion (1820-1896), who was the Rector of Saint Botolph’s (1862-1892) and President of Queens’ College, Cambridge (1892-1896).

The window shows Saint Botolph between Saint Bernard and Saint Margaret, the two patron saints of Queens’ College, which was patron of the living. Campion was instrumental in bringing Bodley, and Kempe and Leach along with him, to work on the restoration of Saint Botolph’s as a result of their work at All Saints’ Church in Jesus Lane.

The Crucifixion Window by Kempe (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2015)

An earlier association with neighbouring Corpus Christi College is recalled by with the pelican in the Crucifixion window by Kempe in the north aisle.

It was also interesting to learn that Bodley’s patron at Saint Botolph’s, William Magan Campion, was born in Ireland.

Campion was born on 28 October 1820, the second son of William Campion of Maryborough (Port Laoise), Co Laois. He was admitted as a pensioner to Queens’ College, Cambridge, in 1845 to read Maths, and was elected a Fellow of Queens’ in 1850, when he was appointed a Lecturer in Mathematics.

He was ordained deacon in 1851 and priest in 1855. However, he was considered too young to become the President of Queens’ College when Joshua King died in 1857.

Campion became a member of the first Council of the Senate and its Secretary in 1865. He was the Rector of Saint Botolph’s (1862-1892), a rural dean (1870-1892), and an Honorary Canon of Ely Cathedral (1879-1896). He was also Lady Margaret’s preacher in Cambridge University in 1862, and Whitehall Preacher in 1862-1864.

Campion was finally elected President of Queens’ College in 1892 after the death of George Phillips. But by then he was already old and in poor health. He died in the President’s Lodge at Queens’ College on 20 October 1896 and is buried in the Mill Road Cemetery, Cambridge.

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