Alexander Cameron, a second-year PhD research student at the Courtauld Insitute
of Art researching sedilia, the seats for the priest, deacon and subdeacon
found in the walls of many of England’s parish churches, recently
visited the Suburb and St Jude's.
don’t need this “Open House” nonsense to get in interesting buildings, I left
the queuing to hoi polloi and went on a guided tour of Hampstead Garden
Suburb, in which we got to tramp through a newly-moved-in-resident’s back
garden which was rather exciting. I feel it is above and beyond my call of duty
to upload and label my pictures of the various properties (this is also the
third time I’ve been round with a Pevsner) so I’d just like to say I think I
decided that day I would like to live in this one, with a Neo-Elizabethan
glazed bay, the most (please).
centrepiece of course to the suburb is Nedi’s bizarre witch’s hatted, at the
very least stylistically bizarre and at worst downright reckless (barrel
vaulted nave with open timber aisles?? What are you thinking, you fool?!) St.
Jude-on-the-Hill. The most amazing thing about the church are
the paintings, over seemingly every inch of wall and ceiling space, by Walter
Starmer, 1919-30. If you’ve never heard of him that’s probably because much of
his career was spent here. The New Testament is absolutely ransacked for
subjects: Christ’s ministry, but also His parables and aphorisms. There are
some clever formal parallels, such as Christ
dragging His Cross mirroring Him riding a
donkey on the other side of the vault, as well as the
spectacular, where by looking up and spinning round, one can recreate “Woman, behold
thy son, son behold
thy mother“. All of Starmer’s paintings are a bizarre stylistic
oddity: still with Victorian Arts and Crafts ambition and ornamental motifs,
but infused with a proto-cinematic realism akin to Tissot’s Gospel Illustrations,
yet still with the broad heroic gestures of history painting, with a whiff of
the Art Deco. It’s a marvel it ever got finished."