Friday, 9 September 2011

High Cross, Hertfordshire

St John was, as expected, locked with no keyholder listed but as it's a 19th century creation I rather suspect the interior would be as bland as the exterior.

ST JOHN THE EVANGELIST, 1846, by Salvin. Grey stone with a SE steeple and a red brick Vicarage behind. Architecturally not specially interesting, but exhibiting an interesting contrast between the STAINED GLASS of the E and W windows. That in the E by Kempe, an early work of 1876, with his typical full forms and rather overdone yellows. That on the W was designed by Selwyn Image and dates from c. 1893. It is most extraordinary for that date, evidently with knowledge of what Burne-Jones had done for Morris & Co. windows, but entirely original in the sombre glowing colours and the rather mannered, Ravennesque central figure of Christ. The diagonal trails of leaves above and below the figures are charming, as are all the decorative features. The window might easily be mis-dated as modern English work of c. 1930. 

St John (4)

High Cross. It is only a hamlet on the Old North Road, but it spans the years from the time when Caesar’s fleet patrolled our shores to the days when HMS Achilles sank a German raider in the Great War. The white ensign flown by the Achilles in the war hangs in the church, and on a memorial below the flag are the names of a boat’s crew who perished in the fight. It is the most striking possession of this 19th-century church.

Making his home here when we called we found the only living man who had won the VC twice, Colonel Arthur Martin-Leake, a surgeon who first won his VV with Baden-Powell in South Africa, and won it again in the Great War for the same devotion to wounded under heavy fire.

At Youngsbury, south of High Cross, is a fine Georgian mansion ringed by trees, with grounds in which the remains of a Roman house were found about 200 years ago. There are two ancient burial mounds near by.

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