May 25 – A trip to Rachael’s manor house in Berry Pomeroy

Rachael's Open Studio

Hello from 1066 – A Medieval Mosaic

Rachael is part of an open studio of 30 artists in and around Totnes this weekend and she asked us to come down to Berry Pomeroy for her private viewing. We arranged with one of the vergers to turn the lights on for the mosaic and to put our A-board sign outside and we headed off just after 10. As we had been to the cathedral first we could not join the M5 until we had driven through Glastonbury, Street and several villages so we did three church micros on the way.

At Coxley the church wasn’t particularly old so we just did the church micro. It was hidden behind a green bus shelter and there was a lady with a pushchair standing at the bus stop and another couple at the bus stop over the road but I managed to see it immediately reach up and grab it, walked around the corner to sign the log and then just as nonchalantly replaced it without either party seeing. The next church was at Walton where the church was closed but I found the cache quickly and then we went on to Ashcott. Again, the church was closed and despite an excellent hint it still took us a while to find. Mike was ready to give up when I laid my hand on it. I am not really sure why we made such hard work of it as it was a decent size container. Once we got onto the M5 we moved along a lot faster and had a nice easy drive.

We got to Rachael’s about 1 and were met by Will who was out in the garden. It is nearly a year since we were there last which is quite a shock. The garden was looking lovely and the hallway was all freshly painted for the exhibition. Rachael had completely cleared out her room and she and Will had been hanging all her circular paintings from the picture rail. They looked lovely. We helped with the final set up and got the food ready. At four people started arriving and we had a wonderful evening meeting Rachael’s friends, fellow artists and flatmates. Only three of the original flatmates still live there and so there were a few new people to meet.

Earlier in the day when we first arrived, Rachael went into Totnes for further supplies. So Mike and I went to have another look at Berry Pomeroy Church. We have a new camera since we last took photographs here. The Grade 1 listed church has a nave and two aisles either side with stonework showing instead of plastered walls. It has a wonderful 46 ft full-width 15th-century rood screen across the two chapels and the chancel entrance. It was built in and restored in 1908 so the painting is not in the best condition but is still visible. There are 24 pictures of saints across the lower half of the screen which is mostly scribbled out probably in the Reformation. There were an octagonal font and a pipe organ in the side chapel. In the Seymour Chapel is a triple tomb monument in the Corinthian style to Edward, son of the Protector of Somerset, his son Lord Edward Seymour who died in 1593 and the latter’s wife Elizabeth Champernowne. There is a baby being Elizabeth’s head and a young ‘imbecile’ child at her feet. There are five sons and 4 daughters at the foot of the monument. The stained glass window in the Seymour chapel is a beautiful window from 1923 with 3 angels. Another particularly nice window was that of a rural scene named “The Earths Full of Thy Riches” by Christopher Rahere Webb from 1951. There are also several Christopher Whall windows from the 1880s and one by his daughter Veronica Whall from 1926 which is especially lovely. In the cemetery is an Ashlar pyramid monument to Elizabeth Howard who died in 1810 and was the wife of Henry Howard of Glossop. It is a very unusually shaped monument.

Rachael had a few visitors to her private viewing and everyone was excited and inspired by her artwork. I especially love the ‘Verre Églomisé‘ which she does a lot of these days and while she mentions it often, this is the first time that I have actually been able to see and understand the process. We were also pleased to meet her flatmates, some we have met several times before and others for the first time. Also got to meet Dottie the house cat who is new to the house since we visited last. She is a gorgeous little thing.