Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Bodley and Garner in Lincolnshire

Brant Broughton, Lincolnshire

If you ever find yourself near Lincoln, take a detour ten miles south to the village of Brant Broughton, where the church of St Helen is a building that really shouldn't be missed. The church is an example of an exceptional and lavish restoration by Bodley and Garner. The restoration was initiated by Canon F. H Sutton, who was inducted to the living of Brant Broughton in 1873. He was inducted into the vicar's stall in a mean Georgian chancel attached to a run-down late medieval nave and aisles. Sutton set about a restoration almost immediately and by 1877 G F Bodley had transformed the building, replacing the Georgian chancel with a model Tractarian chancel in the Decorated style. It is this chancel that I want to focus on in this post.

Passing through the rood screen between the choir stalls, you move across a chequerboard floor of black and white marble into a lofty sanctuary. The chancel has all the liturgical furniture of a medieval chancel, including a triple sedilia and piscina. The focus of the chancel is the high altar set on a raised footpace with a typical lofty Bodley reredos behind it. The reredos painted in typical muted reds and greens and gilded, has as its centrepiece a fifteenth century German panel painting of the the Ascension, given by Canon Sutton.

Brant Broughton, Lincolnshire

Brant Broughton, Lincolnshire

The painting is set under a triple canopy of ogee arches and is flanked by small shafting figures of angels and larger figures of the Evangelists.

Brant Broughton, Lincolnshire

The altar is further enriched with glorious textiles. Two riddel curtains of stamped velvet hang at either end. The frontals were all provided by Bodley's firm Watts and Co and include a red frontal of stamped velvet and a blue frontal with alternating panels of velvet and Bodley's own 'Gothic' silk.

Brant Broughton, Lincolnshire

Brant Broughton, Lincolnshire

All told the chancel is a wonderful ensemble, but there is more to see in the rest of the church. That will have to wait for another post.


Davis d'Ambly said...

It's been on my "must see" list for some time. Much about this chancel is reminiscent of Henry Vaughan's work in the States - clearly he had come over here to spread the "gospel" of Bodley to the colonials.

Roger Mortimer said...

In a total, helpless Bodley fan - many thanks!

Peter Mullins said...

I'm very fond of Brant Broughton too, both for the Parish Church but also for the Friend's Meeting House. Had you thought of being in touch in response to my message at the beginning of the year?