St. Agatha’s and the artist Heywood Sumner

St Agatha’s, Landport, Portsmouth, is well known for its sgraffito decoration (wall decorations created by scraping away layers of plaster) – especially the apse. It is only one of four surviving complete schemes by Heywood Sumner.

George Heywood Maunoir Sumner (1853–1940) was an English painter, illustrator and craftsman, closely involved with the Arts and Crafts movement and the late-Victorian London art world, who was influenced by William Morris.

If you are a fan of his work, you can see another one at Christ Church in Church Crookham.

Church Crookham - Christ ChurchThis church is in Hampshire and was part of the Diocese of Winchester until it became one of the few Hampshire parishes to switch to the Guildford Diocese when it was created in 1927.

The church was built in the early English style and reflecting the Oxford Movement values was consecrated in 1841 by Henry Sumner (grandfather to Heywood Sumner). The church had daily services and twice monthly Eucharists, which were thought of as being revolutionary. Attracted by this style of worship families built houses in the surrounding area, which was open countryside, and it became known as ‘Church Crookham’.

Church Crookham - Sumner friezeChurch Crookham - Sumner sgraffito angelChurch Crookham - Christ Church - Sumner sgraffitoWell Sumner decorated the church, in 1893, with sgraffito and returned in 1900 to work in stained glass. The two west windows show the angels of the Annunciation and the Resurrection. Texts are quoted from the gospels – ‘Ave gratia plena’ (Hail, full of grace); and ‘Mulier, quid ploras?’ (Woman, why are you weeping?) respectively.

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The windows in the apse of S. Agatha’s, in time, are to be filled with Sumner’s angels, so this gives us an idea of Sumner’s style.

(from the St. Agatha’s blog)

His work is also to be found in the newly-refurbished Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Ennismore Gardens, Kensington, London – formerly All Saints Anglican Church.

All Saints - Sumner schemeAll Saints - Sumner tympanonAll Saints - Sumner AnnunciationAll Saints - Sumner Nativity

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One Response to St. Agatha’s and the artist Heywood Sumner

  1. Simon says:

    Wow! This is breathtakingly beautiful.

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