Walter Crane in Wigton

With all the interest in Arts & Crafts churches recently, two books being published on the subject, it is worth mentioning that religious Arts & Crafts work sometimes turns up in quite unexpected places.

A good example is St. Mary’s Church in Wigton, Cumbria. This is a large 1788 classical preaching box, miles from anywhere north of the Lake District. It’s a fine looking building. I went in with my ‘Georgian’ hat on and it certainly didn’t disappoint in that regard.

However, one of the aisle windows beneath a balcony caught my eye with its harmonious green tones and Arts & Crafts character. Looking more closely, a Crane signature marked it out as being by Walter Crane, who, as a metropolitan based socialist, is possibly the last person you would expect to see in these parts.

The window is quite formal – a nod to the classicism of the building, perhaps. It represents Christ as the Light of the World. The border has cherubs sitting on the branches of a climbing plant which grows around Christ as if sustained by his light – a nice blend of Christian and Art Nouveau ideas. The date is 1906, so it is a late work.

Wakter Crane was born in Liverpool and taught in Manchester in the 1890s. He was the first president of the Northern Art Workers Guild which was set up by Edgar Wood. While Crane and Wood knew one another it is not yet known how close their artistic paths coincided. For more information on Walter Crane click here.

Online Lecture – 1900: Lions and Lambs – the Irresistible Rise and Bashful Demise of the Arts & Crafts Church

For those who remember Alec Hamilton’s lecture on Arts & Crafts Churches at the Arts & Crafts Church a few years back, this online event may be of particular interest…

The Society of Architectural Historians is hosting a lecture  by Alec on 25 November 2020 at 6.00 p.m.

‘1900: Lions and Lambs – the Irresistible Rise and Bashful Demise of the Arts & Crafts Church’.

This is a free event but donations are welcome to help the charitable activities of the Society.

To book, click the following link to register. You will be sent a joining link on the day.

https://www.sahgb.org.uk/whatson/artscraftschurch

Alec Hamilton’s book, ‘Arts & Crafts Churches’, is available at Lund Humphries website:

https://www.lundhumphries.com/products/95607

A different Arts & Crafts church is opening on Heritage Open Days

Long Street Methodist Church and Schools are not opening this coming Heritage Open Days. However, the wonderful St Martin’s Church, Low Marple, Cheshire is, so why not visit there instead?

Opens Friday 18 September 2020, 14.00-18.00 and Saturday 19 September 2020, 10.00-15.00

St.Martin’s Church, Brabyns Brow, Marple Bridge, Marple, Stockport SK6 5DT

Next to Marple Railway Station.

Covid-secure arrangements observed.

Saint Martin’s Church was established in 1867 by Mrs Hudson of Brabyns Hall. It was designed by John Dando Sedding and subsequently extended by Henry Wilson. The church contains art works by William Morris, Dante Gabrielle Rosetti, Sir Edward Burne-Jones, Ford Maddox Brown and Christopher Whall.

Edgar Wood painted a picture of the art nouveau Lady Chapel which was designed by Henry Wilson. It shares some of the stylisms used by Wood.

Lady Chapel ceiling

Heritage Open Days at Long Street Methodist Church, Middleton M24 5UE

Visit the Arts & Craft’s Church free of charge at  Heritage Open Days!Open on the following days in September…

  • Friday 13th – 10am to 4pm
  • Saturday 14th  – 10am to 4pm, 2pm Guided tour of nearby Edgar Wood buildings
  • Sunday 15th  – 1pm to 4pm, 2pm Guided tour of nearby Edgar Wood buildings
  • Friday 20th – 10am to 4pm
  • Saturday 21st – 10am to 4pm, 2pm Guided tour of the Peterloo Sam Bamford Trail
  • Sunday 15th – 1pm to 4pm, 2pm Guided tour of the Peterloo Sam Bamford Trail

Long Street Methodist Church & School is an Arts & Crafts masterpiece by Manchester architect, Edgar Wood. An indescribable blend of rustic expressionism and Art Nouveau abstraction,  it announced a radical new architecture when built in 1900.

The Peterloo Sam Bamford Trail celebrates this year’s theme ‘People Power‘ to mark the 200th anniversary of the  Peterloo  Massacre.  Led by Sam Bamford expert Dave Lees.

How to get there…

Car – SATNAV – Long Street Methodist Church, Lever Street, Middleton, Manchester. M24 5UE

Access by car from outside the area is via the M60 and M62 which provide main routes from the north, south, east and west. Car parking is at the rear on Lever Street.

Bus – The No. 17 bus between Manchester and Rochdale passes adjacent along Long Street (alight at Jubilee Park/Middleton Library) and Middleton Bus Station is also within walking distance.

Train – The nearest railway station is Mills Hill, a mile and a half east of Middleton centre. It lies on the Caldervale Line between Manchester and Leeds.

Wheelchair Access – Due to substantial changes in levels across the site, wheelchair access is presently limited to around 50% of the interior and not the garden. Disabled toilets are available.

Preparations for Visit to the Edgar Wood Centre, Manchester

Edgar Wood Society’s David Morris met up with (left to right) Bill, Danny (and his dog) and Pete to see how Edgar Wood’s First Church was faring in its restoration and to assist with some conservation issues.

The Edgar Wood Society is visiting this Saturday and Danny wanted the building to look its best (as far as you can while restoring it). The external redecoration is well under-way and the new garden planting is looking good. All future lighting will be fixed in the garden not on the buiding. The latest set of works included the removal of vast amounts of cabling, trunking and electrical fittings, from when the Centre was used as offices. Two modern radiators have also been removed, exposing more of the original marble panelling and now the historic skirting  boards are also being restored. The interior is starting to look very good. 

Redecoration well under-way – original Edgar Wood colours discovered

July saw a flurry of paint brushes as the restoration moved onto the redecoration of the interior.  Colour sampling by David Morris brought to light the original Edgar Wood colours for all but two of the rooms. The image above shows the original scheme for the Ladies Parlour which was painted in a William Morris style grey-green. The School Hall was found to have eleven coats of paint… at one time the walls were painted bright red/orange! Edgar Wood’s colour was pale blue making for a fresh and relaxed interior. See the coloured up photos below… the old colour scheme is on the left and the new one is on the right. Continue reading “Redecoration well under-way – original Edgar Wood colours discovered”

Successful Edgar Wood Arts & Crafts day

David Morris treated 15 Edgar Wood enthusiasts to a day of visits and talks about the art and craft of the great Manchester architect.

They first visited Jubilee Library, built in 1887 and one of the earliest arts & crafts libraries in the country, blending rustic oak timber framing with state-of-the-art reinforced concrete.

At St. Leonard’s Church people saw stunning arts and crafts windows by a host of famous designers, including Christopher Whall and A. K. Nicholson. Edgar Wood designed the beautifully traditional roof and oversaw the conservation of the building in 1907. His crafted drawing of the medieval rood screen showed how it was before conservation.

Everyone then went to view Edgar Wood’s 1906 redesign of Jubilee Park which had the old Middleton church crowning the landscape. The art deco fountain awaits restoration but the ceremonial staircase is now looking good. David later showed slides on how the fountain and park could be restored to their original art deco design.

The fourth visit was to 36 Mellalieu Street. It was designed the same time in 1906 and shoes a perfect blend of advanced modern styling and old vernacular features.

Edgar Wood’s creation of early art deco styling was much in evidence in the afternoon slideshows as was his pioneering of art nouveau and thr arts anf crafts.

These buildings illustrated the early and mature phases of Edgar Wood’s architecture. His stylish middle period was also much in evidence in the venue of the day, the Arts & Crafts church, Long Street Methodist.

The event was relaxed and informal with an exhibition of Edgar Wood relatef artefacts, books and paintings provided by the Edgar Wood Society.

David thanks Geoff Grime, Dave Brennand, Tim Hill and the staff of Jubilee Library for making their buildings accessible and Mark Watson for providing the paintings.

Nick Baker talks about Pennine Arts and Crafts

Last night at Lindley Methodist Church, Huddersfield, 80 people attended a fascinating lecture by Nick Baker about the Arts & Crafts Movement in the Pennine areas and the impact of the Northern Art Workers Guild.

Nick identified the principal architects, such as Barry Parker, Edgar Wood and Walter Brierley and the Guild’s artists, like sculptor J. J. Millson, plasterer J. R. Cooper, metal worker George Wragge, painter Frederick Jackson, and sculptor Stirling Lee, who combined their talents to enrich the strucures erected by the architects, both on the outside and in the decoration and furnishing of rooms.

Hollins Hill, now Haworth Art Gallery, Accrington, 1909, by Walter Brierley

Nick introduced the audience to many new buildings as well as presenting old favourites in a new light. He also highlighted the importance of the northern Arts & Crafts movement to the development of European fin de siecle architecture and how buildings like the grade I listed Banney Royd, Egerton, Huddersfield had international fame.

Banney Royd, Egerton, 1900, by Edgar Wood