Project Canterbury

Some Examples of Church Ornaments.

By Percy Dearmer.

London: The Warham Guild, 1914.

ONE of the chief objects of the Warham Guild is to act as agents whereby priests, churchwardens, and donors can be easily put in touch with artists and craftsmen. There is at the present day no dearth of skilful artificers in every kind of work, as the Arts and Crafts Exhibition has shown us for over twenty years past. It would in fact be possible to fill our churches with beautiful things,—things worthy to be compared with the glorious treasures of old time. It would be possible, were it not for one difficulty—the client does not know how to find the right artist for the particular work he requires. For this two things are necessary: a show-room where the work of artists can be seen, and an agency through which clients can be put in touch with artists. This the Warham Guild has come into existence to undertake. It does indeed supply the humbler kinds of churchwork, surplices, and such-like things, which indeed can be made very beautiful, simple as they are. But it aims above all at setting the artists to work in our incomparable parish churches, which, alas! have been so injured by unthinking decorations and ornaments during the past seventy years. If this object of the Guild is realized sufficiently by the Church public, a new era may well dawn upon us. This is really possible at the present day, since only a readily accessible agency is wanted, there being so many artists anxious to work for the Church, the Warham Guild is able to come forward to supply this agency, and to help on the work so well begun years ago by the Church Crafts League.

Below we give a few examples of such ornaments as are easily reproduced in illustration, excluding architectural work in this collection, and also garments such as are illustrated in other publications of the Guild.


October, 1914.

1. Chalice and Paten

First among necessary ornaments are the chalice and paten. This example, in silver, studded with cornelians, follows in size and general outline those of the 14th century. It is small, and is suitable for a congregation of forty communicants. Silver chalices of this type are quite expensive.

2. Pyx for Clinical Communion

This beautiful little pyx, by Mr. F. Smythe Greenwood, is of the type which experience shows to be much the best for communion with the reserved Sacrament. The glass vessel allows of no leakage, and forms a most convenient little chalice; it fits into the vessel on the right, over which is screwed the small box for the Hosts, with its cap. The pyx also serves perfectly for a clinical Celebration of the Holy Communion. A second glass vessel can be used as a stock for the consecrated oil; and the pyx then serves for the Unction of the Sick.

3. Candlesticks

A pair of small and single candlesticks, from a graceful design by Mr. G. E. Scedding. These are given as one example out of many, the designs varying greatly, and some having very broad sconces, which are effective as well as convenient.

4. Portable Lantern

Sometimes lights are required for carrying out of doors; and the illustration on this page is an extremely charming example of such a lantern by Mr. F. Smythe Greenwood.

5. Churchwarden’s Staff

Seldom are these staves made of the impressive and sumptuous type of those which have come down to us in our city churches. The above particularly fine example of one of two silver heads designed in silver and enamel, with ebony staves, is by Mr. F. Smythe Greenwood. The reader can imagine how well they look in a festal procession.

6, 7, 8. Altar Crosses

Three examples are here given. No. 6 by Mr. F. Smythe Greenwood, No. 7 by Mr. Geoffrey Webb, and No. 8 by Mr. G. E. Sedding. They are both good examples of very different types, and thus illustrate the great variety of such ornaments. For the principal altar of must churches more massive crosses would be suitable.

9, 10. Processional Crosses

In beaten brass with enamelled medallions, by Mr. F. Smythe Greenwood. It will be noticed how graceful is the modeling of the socket into which the staff is fitted.

The interesting example (No. 10) by Miss Jessie Bayes shows the use to which lacquer, gesso, and painting can be put to make a processional cross, full of decoration and symbolism, light to carry, and inexpensive as compared with the great cost of such effective work in metal.

11. A Crucifix

The figure in bronze guilt on ebony cross has been designed by Mr. G. E. Sedding in order to meet the growing desire among devout Christians to possess a crucifix that shall represent the Christ, not broken and defeated, but reigning and triumphing from the Cross. This type of crucifix which mystically represents the Resurrection and Ascension as well as the Death of our Lord, was the only kind of crucifix known in the first thousand years of the Church.

13. Altar Vases

We are all weary of the conventional brass vases which have been reproduced in their thousands. Here is an example by Mr. F. Smythe Greenwood of an original and effective design in beaten brass.

13 and 14, Burses

Burses may be of any colour and of any kind of textile, or even of leather: the design also admits of infinite variety. No. 13 is embroidered; No. 14 is of Russian gold tissue, the richness of which cannot be enhanced by embroidery. The Warham Guild recommends Churchmen to dispense with chalice-veils, but undertakes them when it is desired.

15, 16, 17, and 18. Stoles

There is no doubt that stoles ought to be narrow and long especially now that the decent and comely surplice is restored among us. No. 18 has embroidery on the ends; Nos. 15 and 16 have headings of gold tissue, and No. 17 is barred along its whole length with gold braid and cord, and effective style of ornament. For other “Ornaments of the Minister” the reader should refer to the Illustrated Catalogue of the Warham Guid, and its Black and White List.

19. Madonna and Child

Many desire to possess religious statuary which is the work of an artist and has the touch of personal feeling and devotion, and yet is not of a price that would be prohibitive to all except the rich. Miss Bayes has made several beautiful plaster figures, exquisitely coloured by herself, of which this is an example.

20. Credence Table

A table, simple, solid, and of good design, by Mr. Geoffrey Lucas. This example is Gothic in style, but of course other styles can be equally effective.

21. Morse and Pectoral Cross

Here are examples of the admirable work which is now being made by a number of craftsmen; and which the Warham Guild renders easily accessible to those who have out-grown the shop-window jewelry over which so much money has been wasted. An infinity of beautiful work can be done in the making of morses for copes, an example of which is given above. The morse illustrated is by Miss Noel Wright.

22. Censer

A silver censer by Mr. F. Smythe Greenwood, Gothic in design, but original in treatment, and a comely example of craftsman’s work in metal.

23. Painted Banner

What is to be done when people want a banner full of bright color and interest, and with a figure, and are only able to spend five or ten pounds? Clearly they could not have even tolerable embroidery for double or treble such a sum. The answer is to paint these cheap banners as if they were pictures. In the above case Mr. C. S. Skilbeck has boldly copied one of the magnificent figures on the famous Ranworth screen. When an embroidered banner is wanted, no expense should be spared, and something should be allowed for the design, for even artists must live.

24. Traveling Communion Set

Two cruets, paten, and a well modeled chalice by Mr. F. Smythe Greenwood.

Project Canterbury