Friends Lectures: Report of 2019 Lectures


Dorset Historic Churches Trust

Winter Lectures 2019


Stained Glass in Wessex Churches 1918-2018  by Brian Woodruffe

Thursday 28th February 2019.      The Langton Arms, Tarrant Monkton.

A capacity audience was welcomed to the first of this year’s winter lectures by the new Chair of DHCT, John Stokoe. He welcomed the speaker, Brian Woodruffe, who is well known for his publications on church buildings in Wiltshire.

Mr Woodruffe opened his lecture by saying that his interest had originally been piqued by the 1960s TV films of John Betjeman and has been most recently sustained by the exhibition of stained glass in Chartres last autumn. In this talk, however, he focused on Wessex, and illustrated every remark with a host of beautifully presented images of the windows discussed.

He described his last ten years’ study of stained glass in this area as “a journey of contrast, mystery and delight” and went on to itemise five aspects of stained glass that he always considered:  imagination in design, understanding the qualities of light, animation of figures and perspective in scenes, appealing use of colour and innovation in schemes in sets of windows or in window tracery.

In commenting on how stained glass can transform an interior space, he said that there is always something to like in any window and he never commented that he did not like a window at all.

Considering the history of the development of glass designs over the last hundred years, there have been nearly 2,000 new stained glass windows installed in Wessex during this period. Mr Woodruffe described the development of freer designs in the late nineteenth century by such figures as Henry Holiday and Edward Burne Jones and then the development of individual, forward-looking designers who took over from larger firms in the twentieth century.

In concluding with an assessment of some of the greatest works of this area and period, Mr Woodruffe mentioned particularly Tom Denny, some of whose greatest work can be seen at Woodford All Saints, near Salisbury, and the French artist Gabriel Loire of Chartres, who was responsible for the Prisoners of Conscience window at Salisbury Cathedral, possibly the greatest glass creation of the last hundred years.

At the end of a fascinating lecture, richly illustrated and revealing a remarkable depth of knowledge and challenging opinion, a vote of thanks was offered, both to the lecturer and to the organiser, Sue Smith.



Memorials of The First World War in Dorset    By Dr Tim Connor

Tuesday 26th March – The Langton Arms, Tarrant Monkton.

A large cohort of the Friends of DHCT gathered at The Langton Arms, Tarrant Monkton, for the second of this year’s winter lectures, given by an old friend and Trustee of the charity, Dr Tim Connor.

He explained that his theme seemed especially relevant to recent history, as there have been so many 1914-18 centenary events over the last five years. He explained that local memorials must be seen in the context of the great national and international monuments and in consideration of a history of such memorials going back at least as far as the ancient Greeks. Also, by the time of the First World War, despite the hurried and informal nature of many front-line burials, soldiers’ names and details were usually recorded, and bereaved families and communities often debated with great care how best to record their terrible losses.

The result is the wide range of types of memorials to be found today, both in this country where there may be as many as 55,000 monuments, and across the world, where different artistic aesthetics usually applied.

The relative reticence of most British memorials owes much to the quiet dignity of Lutyens’ Cenotaph but work inspired by medieval, Georgian and Victorian artistic styles are also to be found in Dorset.

Among many individual examples, the way the look of larger churches, such as Gillingham, were changed by the addition of war memorials was described, as well as the building of whole memorial churches, such as at Langham. Further, impressive artworks, like the Eric Gill designed memorial at Briantspuddle were illustrated, and the noteworthy memorial to German prisoners of war at Fordington.

Following a number of questions, thanks were offered by the Chair of DHCT John Stokoe for an authoritative, thought-provoking and emotional lecture. Mr Stokoe had earlier introduced himself to members and outlined some of his ambitions for the next few years. He explained he hoped to focus on the Friends and the work of the network of Deanery Area Representatives, as well as marketing and fundraising. All this springs from his great belief in the importance of engendering a sense of community which is so important in these fragmented times.

The next Friends event will be a Crawl, starting at Whitchurch Canonicorum at 10.30 on Tuesday 14th May.