Carolle A Kerry
We are heading for Rochester and Chichester Cathedrals, Petworth House and Lancing College Chapel for the annual weekend visit - the greatest of which venues is, arguably, Lancing College Chapel. For so many Friends of Lincoln Cathedral, Lancing College Chapel, which dominates the landscape, was always the heavenly vision set high on the South Downs, passed at speed whilst on the A 27; so near and yet so far.
But Lancing was not the first port of call; so return we must to Rochester Cathedral to spy out two treasures. Staring down from the roof above the crossing are colourful examples of Green Men, originally a pagan fertility symbol. The carved wooden bosses seen today are early Victorian examples, repainted gloriously in 1992. Equally colourful is the fresco by the celebrated Russian iconographer Sergei Fyodorov, dedicated on St John the Baptist’s Day, 24th June 2004, giving a sense of how a mediæval cathedral might once have looked.
Chichester Cathedral, by contrast, is famous for its modern art – a tapestry by John Piper, a painting by Graham Sutherland and most striking of all, a stained-glass window in vibrant hues of red and blue by Marc Chagall based on Psalm 150: ‘O Praise God in his Holiness … let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord.’
During the afternoon we join with the Friends of Lancing College for Festal Evensong and a talk by their Chairman, then to Lancing’s various treasures – the crypt, the rose window designed by Stephen Dykes Bower, currently the largest rose window in England, or, perhaps, the blue and yellow stained glass window dedicated in memory of Bishop Trevor Huddleston, an old boy of the College, who spearheaded the movement against oppression and injustice in South Africa during the late 1940s, early 1950s. The window, consecrated by Archbishop Desmond Tutu in 2007, pays testament to Huddleston’s standing and tireless campaigning.
And so to Petworth House. Surrounded by 700 acres of deer park landscaped by Capability Brown, Petworth houses a nationally important collection of paintings and sculptures with numerous works by Turner, Constable, Van Dyke, Reynolds and Blake. For me, Petworth’s overlooked treasure is the small church dedicated to St Mary by the side of the house with its memorials, stained glass and books of remembrance
One hesitates to call Keith ‘a treasure’ in this particular context, but from each of the Friends who spent such an enjoyable weekend: ‘Thank you Keith’, for your enthusiasm and energy in making it all possible.
Carolle A Kerry