25 August 2021

Praying in Ordinary Time 2021:
88, All Saints’ Church, Cambridge

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

Patrick Comerford

Before the day gets busy, I am taking a little time this morning for prayer, reflection and reading. Each morning in the time in the Church Calendar known as Ordinary Time, I am reflecting in these ways:

1, photographs of a church or place of worship;

2, the day’s Gospel reading;

3, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary.

My theme this week is churches in Cambridge that are not college chapels. My photographs this morning (25 August 2021) are from All Saints’ Church on Jesus Lane.

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

George Frederick Bodley (1827-1907) was one of the most important architects of the Tractarian Movement, and he is associated with at both All Saints’ Church and Saint Botolph’s Church, as well as 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’ (Michael Hall, 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), the Mission Church, Hadley End (1901), and Saint Chad’s Church, Burton-on-Trent (1903-1910).

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 is Bodley’s first church in the Decorated Gothic style of the early 14th century (1300-1320), it is one of his most successful and became his favourite.

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

Although All Saints was built in 1863-1864, the parish is much older, dating 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. Although Gilbert Scott was the first choice as architect, the commission was awarded eventually to Bodley.

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 of Our Lady and the English Martys 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. This was one of their 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 once said 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 did 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 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 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.

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.

One of those Vicars, Herbert Mortimer Luckock (1833-1909), was Vicar of All Saints in 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 the West Wall that shows him vested in choir robes and kneeling at prayer.

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 is used by Westcott House, the Anglican theological college on Jesus Lane, and by the Cambridge Theological Federation.

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

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

Matthew 23: 27-32 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 27 ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which on the outside look beautiful, but inside they are full of the bones of the dead and of all kinds of filth. 28 So you also on the outside look righteous to others, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

29 ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous, 30 and you say, “If we had lived in the days of our ancestors, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.” 31 Thus you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of your ancestors.’

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

The Prayer in the USPG Prayer Diary today (25 August 2021) invites us to pray:

Let us pray for the Church in the Province of the West Indies, giving thanks for our partnership with them.

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

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

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

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org

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

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