Thursday, October 14, 2010

Portrait of the Reverend Basil Bourchier

St Jude's was visited today by Rosalind Henry whose grandmother painted the large portrait of the Reverend Basil Bourchier, the first vicar of the church, which until recently hung in the south-west porch. The artist, Alice Ballard, was born in November 1871. She studied at the Slade School of Art and exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1897 and 1898. She married Dr James Stewart Mackintosh and they lived at the Corner House, Platts Lane.

Rosalind is seen above in front of the portrait and holding a contemporary signed photograph of it which she kindly allowed us to copy.


The Vicar is wearing the purple cope dedicated on Palm Sunday 1916 and still in use here during Lent and Advent. The complementary high altar frontal (dedicated March 5, 1916) is also still in use. Clearly visible to the left is the sanctuary lamp in the Lady Chapel given by Lady Battersea in 1913 in memory of Canon Samuel Barnett. The picture on the column has not yet been identified. The spot today is occupied by a plaque of the Virgin and Child. Starmer has yet to be commissioned to paint his frescoes on the walls. The reredos, candles and cross on the high altar are as illustrated in the 1923 History of S. Jude-on-the-Hill but have since been changed. The pictures show brass railings at the top of the sanctuary steps in the style of the present gates which were dedicated by Princess Louise on 16 July 1916. As it is unlikely these have been removed (the present wooden ones are shown in Karel Verschaeren's 1916 painting and in the 1923 History) it must be that the artist included planned or proposed railings which were never in fact installed.

Pasted on the back of the photograph is a cutting from the Daily Mirror of Saturday May 19, 1934 recording Bourchier's will in which he made gifts to the royal family and the RSPCA.

On the back of the painting itself we discovered a label saying it had been presented to Bourchier by the Earl of Lytton on behalf of 1800 subscribers in July 1918.

Another records the 'survey' of the portrait on behalf of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society in 1972 by N. Penny.

This leaflet was bound into our copy of the Parish Paper of June 14, 1918

The Parish Paper of July 19, 1918 reports that the portrait was presented to the Vicar on Friday July 12 in the Institute by the Earl of Lytton. The Vicar himself wrote "I will conclude by once again assuring Mrs Stewart Mackintosh, the originator and fulfiller of the whole idea, that St Jude-on-the-Hill will ever number her among its most kind and valued benefactors. As for myself I will cherish and treasure this gift to the end of my days".

After Bourchier's death in 1934 the portrait passed into the hands of his close friend Miss F. E. Jeffcock who presented it to the church in 1948. Miss Jeffcock (who died in 1949) was also the donor of the Bourchier Memorial (West) window and the original horse memorial.

Another picture by Alice Ballard Mackintosh at one time in the possession of the church and extensively reproduced.

The Lady Chapel Paintings

The artist wrote to the Parish Paper of Friday, February 4, 1921

Sir—In reply to your request, I have pleasure in giving you the following brief outline of the work in the Lady Chapel.

In the main it has been sought to follow the effect of the schemes used in the Italian churches. The method of mural work frequently employed by the French is to paint upon canvas, and afterwards to fix the canvas on to the walls. This is a comparatively easy method for the artist. The effect of the Italian system, which it to work on to the walls themselves, is more satisfactory from the architectural point of view, though slower and more difficult of execution. After consultation with Sir Edwin Lutyens on all important points this is the method now being employed.

The more, one sees of your beautiful church the more one admires its splendid proportions and the genius of its architect. The lunette shapes lend themselves admirably to decoration; the domes present more definite but interesting difficulties. The upper parts of the Chapel have had to be replastered on account of cracks in the original coat of plaster, caused by the natural drying and settling of the building.

I am taking as a general scheme for the Lady Chapel " The Women of the Bible." With such a subject and with strictly limited space it is obvious that only a small selection of subjects can be made, so that it is impossible to include all the favourite subjects of the worshippers.

The Chapel naturally divides itself into two sections, with Ms two domes and two windows. It is possible, therefore, to divide the subjects into two groups — New Testament in the east section and the Old Testament in the west.

Over the altar there is placed the subject of Divine Motherhood, the Virgin and Child, the adoring Kings on the one side and the Shepherds on the other. The subject is decoratively treated—-i.e., no attempt at realism is intended, as, if this were so, it would be quite impossible, for instance, to represent the Kings and the Shepherds in the same scene. Underneath this are two small subjects, the Annunciation and the Visit to the Tomb.

The north wall is devoted to the Teaching of Christ as illustrated' in parables dealing with women—the Wise and Foolish Virgins, the Woman with the Lost Piece of Silver, &c, and the opposite south wall with the Practice as illustrated by women—Dorcas, the Widow's Mite, Anna, &c.

The domes are devoted to more angelic figures, symbolical of Praise and Adoration, as being suitable to the position above the eye-level, while the four pendentives (the triangular sections supporting the domes) carry one text which I have divided into four sections ' to suggest various forms of Ministry by Women— " I was an hungered, and ye gave Me meat;" " I was a stranger, and ye took Me in;" "Naked, and ye clothed Me; sick, and ye visited Me;" " In prison, and ye came unto Me."

The subjects in the west section represent characters from the Old Testament. Amongst these may be picked out those which show four phases of life— The Girl, the Woman, the Wife, the Mother—The Little Hebrew Maid, Sarah, Hannah, &c. Larger figures supporting the dome are leaders amongst women, such as Deborah, Esther and others.

The wall opposite to the door presents some difficulty, as it has the foundation-stone in the centre. It • has therefore been divided into panels. Round these I have put various subjects to indicate some of the gifts which woman has it in her power to bestow—the Gift in Kind, the Gift of Labour, the Gift of Service, the Gift of Devotion and Sacrifice—as it is such as these that help to build the Church, and I suggest the suitability of these round the foundation-stone.

The treatment of all subjects is suggestive rather than dogmatic. No attempt is made at academic portraiture or absolute realism. Each design is intended to be a little piece of one large whole, so that its scheme of colour is subservient to and arranged with a view to the effect on the whole Chapel; each is meant to be part of a solid wall rather than a scene hung up. My wish would be that the worshipper feels—not that he is in a picture-gallery—but in the House of God.

Yours faithfully,

Walter P. Starmer.

The Studio, 14a, Chalcot-gardens, N.W.3.