Neglected Comper work in Buckinghamshire
Great Kimble church sits on the busy A4010 that links Aylesbury and Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire and hundreds of people pass by the church each day. How many are aware that this church contains a great treasure? A beautiful side chapel with fittings by Sir Ninian Comper, dating from the first years of the twentieth century. In truth it seems that the church people of Great Kimble are blissfully unaware of it too. The church guide book makes no mention of Comper and when I visited the church earlier in the year the chapel was being used as a dumping ground for all the rubbish it didn't want to store elsewhere. The altar was obscured by a couple of Victorian altar rails and stacks of chairs. Anyway once all this detritus is cleared away a beautiful Comper ensemble appears, which is the glory of this otherwise fairly ordinary building. Comper screened off this tiny side chapel from the chancel with Gothic parclose screens and placed in it a diminutive 'English' altar with iron riddel posts. Over it he has placed a tester, decorated with heraldic double-headed eagles. On the stone altar he has placed a lovely low painted reredos, decorated with a 'Vernicle' - Veronica's handkerchief imprinted with Christ's face is held between two lovely angels dressed in apparalled albs and amices. The altar is still adorned with its original embroidered frontal, the blue 'cathedral' damask now rather badly faded. The stonework of the east window is decorated with rich polychromy and the glass in the window is a Virgin and Child by Comper. The window in the south wall, an Annunciation (not pictured), is also by him. Both have a strong fifteenth century flavour, with a rich palette of yellow stain, and vivid blue, red and murrey. All in all this chapel is a glorious jewel-box and deserves to be better treated and certainly not obscured with rubbish.
A glimpse of the chapel through the parcloses that divide it from the chancel.
The interior of the chapel.
Detail of the altar
The painted altarpiece
The glorious embroidered frontal has sadly seen better days. It is worthy of conservation.
A detail of the frontal once again.
The east window.