Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Meanwhile, in Hoylandswaine...

You will no doubt remember last October I told you all about the wonderful work of the good people of Hoylandswaine, in this post.  The lovely church of St John, found in the village that is in South Yorkshire, had a mural by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope on its east wall, like so...

Mmmm, Mural-y
Oooh, lovely.  That was until some naughty types in the 1960s gave it a coat of magnolia and it was never seen again.  Well, the splendid folk of Hoylandswaine got some Heritage Lottery money and started the mammoth task of unearthing this gem last year, and here is a little update...

Uncovered Angels! (©2013 Francis Downing)
The angels on the north side of the arch seemed to have suffered the most from the damp (which was why the magnolia was applied in the first place) but the angels on the south side are quite well preserved, in all their angelic-y loveliness. Plus, Mr Jesus is making a good showing, so the work continues apace for completion in Summer next year.  Good work chaps!

There is also a beautiful trail brochure available free of charge to download here.  This follows JRSS's work through some Yorkshire churches and one London church and is a joy to read and makes me want a bit of a road trip.

A pulpit at Flockton Church, with panels by Stanhope
Based on the research of Simon Poë (hello Simon) the booklet helps you to seek out this fascinating art heritage for yourselves, as well as learning more about the artist, all of which are jolly fine things in my book.

Finally, the Village that Embraced Pre-Raphaelitism (Thank you Simon Brock for that phrase - I enthusiastically embrace Pre-Raphaelitism quite a bit, amongst other things) has got funding to do a community mural, which will be on a series of canvases set in a large frame.  Each canvas will be completed by a different group (Mother's Union, Brownies, Schools, the local Art group) and when put together will show a diverse and reflective celebration of the mural that the village has worked so hard to uncover and restore.

Goodness me, I salute the good folk of Hoylandswaine, and am very much looking forward to making the trip up north next year to see the work completed.  If you want to know more in the meantime, have a look at the Hoylandswaine Arts page (here) and the blog by Simon Brock, leather wizard and purveyor of gorgeous goods (here).

Go Hoylandswaine go!


  1. It is all jolly exciting. I've been up that scaffolding (blimey, I was scared. It's high and it doesn't seem all that substantial, when you're up it). Such a privilege! Thank-you to Francis Downing, the conservator, who conducted me.

    Two things: one, I think it's really important that they restore the whole chancel to its appearance when the pictorial part of the mural was new, otherwise it will still not be showing to proper advantage even after the disbursement of £100,000 of HLF money. No-one has told me for sure that they're going to do this, though no-one ever seems to disagree that it's a good idea.

    Two, a bit of shameless self-promotion (I have no shame). I will be giving a paper about the mural to the 'Pre-Raphaelitism: Past, Present and Future' conference in Oxford next month. I hope you're all going to be there. Clan gathering.

  2. I don't disagree that it's a good idea! Trouble is, painting over the psychedelic ceiling isn't quite as sexy as uncovering a forgotten masterpiece... so whether we could generate the enthusiasm and/or cash to do the rest of the work is a tricky one. Maybe you and I could go up an unsubstantial scaffolding and do it with a couple of rollers, Simon?


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx