Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The Country Chrism - with the key to Fairyland, 1913

The lead article in The Vineyard in March 1913 was a poem by Maude Egerton King called 'The Country Chrism'.  Underneath the title it is written "P. G. H.: Christened at the Country Church, 26 Jan. 26, 1913".  The poem describes the christening of Philip, 'P.G.H.' at the Country Church, Kings Road, Haslemere.  It was clearly not a standard church christening.  The actions and their meanings convey some fascinating insights into the life and thoughts of the Peasant Arts movement in Haslemere.

The wayside water referred to is perhaps the stream that now flows between the railway line and the even numbered houses on Kings Road.  Or maybe it is another spring or stream that ran above ground, following on from the old Watermill that used to be situated on the site of the Country Church, now St George's Flats, Kings Road.

The Christening by Ludwig Richter
illustration from The Vineyard, March 1913

"Up from the Heart of all living things
The wayside water it wells and sings.

Though small and hidden its humble cup
From depths eternal it rises up;

From life eternal, tho' cupped so small,
Wells the sweet water, most mystical.

  *       *      *

Shining and singing the day comes down
To jewel the quiet Earth's winter gown.

The berries burn red and the robins sing,
And the snowdrop belfries are all a-ring-

(Delicate snowdrop, so pure and merry,
And sturdy, rubicund holly berry!)

Into the singing day they bring
A beautiful child to the wayside spring.

Were he a bird at its mossy lip,
His singing were sweeter for just one sip;

Or a poor soul, thirsty, and soiled of mien,
The water would feed him and wash him clean.

But dear little Philip is bright and new
As lambs and daises and silver dew;

His pretty frock is of white, white silk,
No thirst has he for he drinks good milk.

'Mid sunlit snowdrops and berried moss
They sprinkle his heart with a shining cross;

They write on his wondering brow the sign
Of Heaven sonship and right divine;

Then hold him close to the moss so sweet
To feel the heart of the Mother beat.

They have touched his lips and his wide bright eyes,
To keep them gentle and brave and wise;

And his feet, in hope of a strong man's running,
His hands, for the joy of the craftsman's cunning;

And they've left in the palm of his small right hand
The hidden key to his fairyland

Dear little Philip is full well sped
With the Country Chrism on heart and head!

The twofold wisdom shall his be now,
Of the sacred Cross, of the sacred Plough,
With the Country Chrism on heart and brow!

  *        *         *
The beautiful Earth will be home to you
And church and workshop and playground too.

And faith, hand-labour, and love and praise
Will win men out of the mortal maze
To walk in the simple and vital ways.

From highway and hedge you will bring them in, -
The rich and poor brothers, so gross, so thin
On money, and wind, and the husks of sin, -

From hedge and highway bring many a brother
Back to the heart of the patient Mother,

Nor rest till his whole desire be bent
On breaking the bread of her sacrament;

To serve her with love and all faithful labour,
And holy days, dance to her pipe and tabour;

To see the Lord in her burning bushes
And sing His praise with her larks and thrushes;

And bless Him daily for power and breath
And then for the freedom of well-earned death!

     *       *       *

Up from the Heart of all living things
The wonderful water it springs and sings;

Though small and hidden its earthy cup,
From depths eternal it rushes up,

From life eternal, though cupped so small,
The deep sweet water, the mystical!"

illustration to 'The Country Chrism'
The Vineyard, March 1913

The Vineyard, March 1913

The Country Chrism, Maude Egerton King
The Vineyard, March 1913

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Hand & Church - The many do not come here

In 'Hand & Church' (The Vineyard, April 1912) Greville MacDonald continues his description of the Country Church, Kings Road, Haslemere (now St Georges Flats), that I had begun in this previous post.  The specific prayer to "teach us the use of our hands again"is very interesting.  As is the statement that "the many do not come here":

The Country Church, Kings Road, Haslemere
reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum

"The Sunday evening services are wonderful.  Low and sweet organ music, a liturgy partly chosen from traditional sources, a silence filled with prayer and sense of recreational forgiveness, are first fruits of the altar's message.  The dim yet star-like candle-light is enough for the glow and passion of this little church's worship-heart.  And perhaps only two or three gathered together, perhaps a score, come here to kneel and sing.  Chiefly are they who, hungry for help and healing, find no peace amidst the mechanic life of the sin-laiden cities, no inspiration from the ardour less routine of most churches.  "Make us Thy faithful people and restore us to the land, that our nation may be independent and brave.  Teach us the use of our hands again, that we may know the value and joy of vital labour, and escape the contamination of the city and its mechanical toil."  "Thy religion is the religion of the heart: give us hearts!  Thy Kingdom is a joyful wedding: give us wedding garments!  Thy gospel is the joy of a clear conscience and a soaring hope: set us free!"  "O Father, who lightest the meek, and fastest down the proud, abase us if we have been arrogant, but help us if we have been humble."  Thus do they pray.

The Country Church, Kings Road, Haslemere
reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum
"The many do not come here.  Indeed, as I hear, the many condemn this Country Church as schismatic or merely temperamental and artistic.  They forget that where two or three gathered together in worship of His Name, there can be no schism, for Jesus is in their midst.  They cannot believe that some may find the Bread and the Wine, just because of their hunger and lowness of heart, as by the side of a rude manger, so in this glowing little barn.  In this humble Church is no schism, no setting up of a denomination, no comparing of one dogma with another.  Here is preached Christ crucified, Christ risen: love, repentance, forgiveness, gifts, tears, and joy.  Schism is professional - always.

"As the Holy Ghost bade the craftsmen of old make their common things of beauty and worship; as He bade Giotto build his Campanile for bell-ringing, Bach roll out his Passion Music in prophecy, Blake glorify Death's Door; so God, in mercy to his loving and erring people, has ordered the increase of this little Country Church.  Like all things of love, it is come out of the Everlasting."

Godfrey Blount design detail
from The Vineyard, April 1912

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Hand & Church - April 1912 - a fiery protest

In The Vineyard (April 1912), Greville MacDonald wrote the opening article titled 'Hand and Church'. In it he provides a passionate description of the Country Church, Kings Road, Haslemere, where St Georges Flats now stand.  The frontispiece of the April 1912 journal, facing he article, is an illustration by Melicent Norris, whose collection of Hine family paintings was reviewed in this post.

Atonement, After Blake by Melicent Norris
Frontispiece The Vineyard, April 1912

"There stands in a forgotten corner of a certain country town a wooden building something like a barn, much like a home, altogether like the lily and the rose.  Its mystic Beauty is an outward sign of the truth that man must be saved.  It was at first called the Folk Church, but now is the Country Church.  It stands for a worth in the people, which being essential, being the very sign manual of God's love and joy and pity, is the means at once of His creature's evolution and salvation.  It stands as a symbolic prayer for the restoration of the traditional country life and all its simplicity: the red lamp of its heart always burns over the altar.  It stands for the Truth, whose word is spoken only in Beauty - the Truth made manifest in the promise of children and the glory of flowers, rather than in schools however lavishly endowed with books and instruments and provings.  The Gospel comes to the heart and not the understanding.  The Baby lies in the Manger and the lilies arise in the field as unconscious protests against that professionalism in art, in virtue, in worship which, all unwittingly, robs the Child and the flowers of their mystic glory.  This little Church has for its work the inspiring faith rather than the opposing of unbelief.  None the less and inevitably it is a fiery protest against a materialistic age which trusts to be saved from its sins by parliaments, schools, and laboratories.  It stands, like the child and the lily, for the integral life; like them, it holds as its heart an inheritance of ancient ways; like them, it is a thing of beauty.

detail of the interior of the Country Church, Kings Road, Haslemere
reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum
"In my consciousness the Country Church stands as a shrine.  Little, long, low windows with green and rosy curtains light it by day; dozens of candles by night.  The altar stands in a vaulted apse fashioned by the artist's hand.  On its walls live, in modelled plaster and radiant colour, birds on uplifting wing, vines out springing and embracing, fruit trees lavish in their kindliness.  As the keystone of the arch from which the apse recedes, is a crucifix almost archaic in simplicity.  From it to right and to left are rushing over the wall red flames that cross great wind-tossed clouds; while, towards the limit of this wall on both sides, the flames are changed into up looking, uprising doves.  But the altar-piece itself surpasses in imaginative splendour all ecclesiastic Art that I have ever seen.  Standing out from a background of vine in green and purple, stands the cross.  Above is written "Ego sum Vitis Vera," and below, among roses and doves, "I am the Resurrection and the Life."  In front of the cross, and raised from it as if leaving it behind, is the body of the Saviour, head and eyes uplifted, arms still outstretched but uprising.  It is carved in wood and coloured in subdued yet glowing tones.  It cannot but fill every simple man and woman with sense of worship.
Reredos of Carved and Painted Wood in the Country Church, Kings Road, Haslemere, 
designed by Godfrey Blount
from Art Journal, February 1911
"On every hand the Art is living, the symbols never tied within rigid bonds.  Like the greatest music, they may awaken one form of inspiration in one person, another in another, though all get like uplifting and help.  The noblest art is many-sided, like the nature of man, and no one aspect need be truer than another.  So here, many understandings are gathered into one confession of faith.  Below the exulting doves hangs a small sculptured Pieta, which deserves remark because of the particular note of freedom sounding in this Church.  It is surmounted by an open frieze of ripening corn, the instant unwritten word of which rings forth as if from some invisible trumpet: "That which thou sowest is not quickened except it die….It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory…Death is swallowed up in victory!"

East End Recess of the Country Church, Kings Road, Haslemere
designed and modelled in plaster by Godfrey Blount
from Art Journal, February 1911

Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Country Church - an embryonic idea

In the Haslemere Educational Museum some time ago, I came across this pamphlet / leaflet / notice which to me seems to be the beginning of the discussion and formation of The Country Church on Kings Road, Haslemere.   The paper has the faint print of Godfrey Blount's vine leaf pattern to the side of text.  It's interesting to read that the meeting will be held in the country and not London "on account of the greater peace and fewer distractions".

detail from
Blount, Godfrey, Arbor Vitae, A.C. Fifield, London, 1910

"We are trying to arrange for a short Conference to take place in Haslemere during November among those who believe that there can be no escape from our present troubles except in the discovery and practice of a true religious faith.

"We adopt the term "religion" in neither an exclusively orthodox nor in an exclusively ethical sense.  Our object is to appeal to that rapidly increasing class of free thinkers who hold that a belief in God, and a dependence on His will, is not only compatible with Common-sense but absolutely essential to our welfare.

"We believe that all true civilisation must be built on that presumption, and we would invite those to whom it has become an obvious truth to meet and exchange views on the Revolution which is taking place, and on the best methods of meeting its dangers or influencing its course.

"It is proposed to hold the Conference in the Country in preference to London on account of the greater peace and fewer distractions.

Leaflet, reproduced courtesy of
Haslemere Educational Museum
"The Meetings will be as intimate and informal as possible.  It is not proposed to admit the public, nor will visitors be asked to prepare papers or addresses.  Should the advisability of this Conference appeal to you, will you let me know if you would be able to come and help our deliberations, and also give me the names of any whose presence you consider would be valuable.

"This is only a preliminary notice, since we must ascertain how our suggestions are accepted before we can issue a more definite programme.

"If the scheme has your approval, may we insert you name to that effect?

"Mr Clutton Brock, Mr Lawson Dodd, Dr Greville MacDonald, and Mr Priestly Prime have been the first to express their cordial appreciation."

detail from
Blount, Godfrey, Arbor Vitae, A.C. Fifield, London, 1910
I think I must have missed the bottom of the notice off in the copy I took, which I think must have been signed by Godfrey Blount.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Peasant Houses for Sale

All of the Haslemere Peasant Arts houses and buildings that still exist today are now homes.  I don't have photographs of them in the present day on this website as I think it would be an invasion of privacy.  However at the moment, two of these houses are for sale and photographs of them are on the internet.  For a rather unpeasant-like sum you could purchase and relive the Peasant Arts days.

The Tapestry Studio/ The Peasant Arts Museum, Kings Road
Designed by Francis Troup.  Used as the Tapestry Studio c.1899-1912 when it then became the Peasant Arts Museum (1912-c.1925).

The Old Studio, Kings Road, Haslemere
for sale at Hamptons

The Tapestry Studio, Kings Road, Haslemere from Art Journal, 1906

Peasant Arts Museum, Haslemere (postcard)
reproduced courtesy of Haslemere Educational Museum

Lower Birtley
The first house that Joseph King and Maude Egerton King lived in after leaving London, they lived there c.1894-1901.  Work was exhibited at the 1896 Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society under the title "Lower Birtley Hand Weaving Industry' as detailed in my post here.  Lower Birtley consists of a number of houses grouped together.  I am not sure whether the house currently for sale is the same 'Lower Bertley' painted by Maude Egerton King's brother, William Egerton Hine, but I think it is.  It is probably the biggest house at Lower Birtley, and given the size of Sandhouse, their later house in Witley, it would appear that the Kings liked large houses.

Lower Birtley Farm, Grayswood
currently for sale with Hamptons

A House at Lower Bertley, Witley by William Egerton Hine, 1895

Lower Birtley Farm, Grayswood
currently for sale with Hamptons
extract of Arts and Crafts Exhibition Catalogue, 1896
showing the Lower Birtley Hand-weaving Industry
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