Three Canopied Niches : J.L. Carr and Kettering Parish Church

A few days ago (El Salvador, Nerja) we witnessed the despoliation of many Spanish churches during the period of the Civil War.  We have, of course, been through a similar process ourselves (albeit for different reasons), during the Reformation and then again during our own Civil War.

But here is evidence of a small attempt to restore what had been lost, in the Parish Church of  S. Peter and S. Paul, Kettering, made by my Father’s friend the novelist, teacher, cricketer and self-publisher J.L. Carr

The guide to the church describes them thus –

“Three canopied niches over the door contain modern statues of the Virgin and Child, St Peter and St Paul by the late J.L. Carr”

Byron Rogers, in his 2003 biography The Last Englishman : a life of J.L. Carr had this to say –

“Some at his [Carr’s] funeral service at Kettering parish church walked through the churchyard, remembering other churchyards through which an antiquarian had walked with them.  A few would have looked up and grinned at the weathered stone figures of St Peter and St Paul over the North door, knowing it was no anonymous stone mason of the Middle Ages but J.L. Carr who had carved them to replace the originals destroyed at the Reformation.  They would have known that their angularity had been forced upon him, the stone coming from window-sills and kerb stones demolished by the council, but a Mrs Pulley, who didn’t, wrote to complain about St Paul’s mouth, which, she said, portrayed a ‘miserable, sulky character’.  She appealed to him to straighten the mouth and to add colouring.”  

I’m afraid the sulkiness – or otherwise – of the mouth is not apparent in these photographs (Mrs Pulley must have had very good eyesight or a long ladder), but they might give you some idea of what they are like.  Well worth a detour, if you happen to be in the area.

The Virgin and Child –

St Peter

and St Paul

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