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The Fragments of Devon collection of paintings and drawings is split over 3 pages on this website simply for ease of viewing because of the numbers involved. There are 24 pieces in total. Please also see the Introduction and Artist’s Statement relating to this work.
Lupton House Ancient Yew Trees
Lupton House, 1 mile from Brixham on the A3022, is a Heritage Estate with a Grade II listed mansion house and a formal Italian garden surrounded by beautiful parkland and countryside. The house dates from the 13th century, and has had a succession of developments since then. In its modern manifestation it has been taken over by the Lupton Trust, a highly successful volunteer run project, which was awarded the Big Society award in 2013.
The building is still being restored, but it is open to the public and is now a luxurious venue for weddings, concerts, family celebrations, public events and workshops to the benefit of all kinds. We visited before Christmas when it was hosting a Christmas fair with every room in the extensive mansion full of stalls and visitors.
We explored outside and found these ancient yews surrounding the Italianate garden.
Henry Moore in Dartington Hall
At the end of a row of magnificent ancient trees stands this beautiful reclining figure sculpture by Henry Moore. It carries an inscription “For Christopher Martin, first administrator of the arts centre at Dartington Hall. 1934 – 1944. Henry Moore Sculptor”.
Christopher Martin was a friend of Moore. He died of TB in 1944. Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst commissioned this piece, which is one of the most serene and beautiful of Moore’s career, one of two pieces finished in that year.
The Elmhirsts created a community at Dartington, based around the fourteenth century manor house, as a centre for education and the arts.
I found it a very gentle and attractive spot, and one of the most stunning pieces created by this sculptor. George Wingfield Digby nicely observed, it “seems to lie in the womb of time with quiet assurance”.
Dartington Hall Swans
One of two sculptures at Dartington Hall by Austro-Hungarian sculptor Willi Soukop. This sculpture was commissioned by the Elmhirsts after they had bought his earlier bronze piece (‘donkey’).
Soukop was one of several artist and performers who took refuge at Dartington to escape from the Nazis. He taught sculpture part-time at Dartington’s Arts Department, then at the Adult Education Centre in Dartington, then other art colleges in London. He was an early tutor to Elizabeth Frink.
The piece is actually a fountain, with a gentle jet of water rising in the back of the birds. Its continuous damp state has led to a prolific coating of moss on parts of the piece. I was drawn to its poetry.
This rather splendid example of Gothic architecture has an interesting past. It began life in the fourteenth century nearer to the hall. In 1850, Mr Pearson, the owner at the time, restored the building, and then decided to move it nearer to the village twenty years later.
He didn’t move the tower, however, that was left standing next to Dartington Hall, in a lovely wooded part of the garden, surrounded by picturesque graves and ancient mysterious yews.
Only in places can the medieval incarnation of this building be discerned. Much of the wall was rebuilt new on old foundations, but the porch and door are old and many features around the church and fittings within are from the earlier building. The fine tower was added by Pearson and given a peal of bells.
There is a feeling of dignity, opulence and quiet authority about this constructions. It is the quintessential expression of Anglican high education, good taste and absolute self-confidence. These were the days of empire.
I’ve been itching to make a picture of this extraordinary cathedral. I remember photographing it from all angles many years ago. I have always loved the grand architectural statements, and of all public buildings, the temples are usually the crown.
This place is a statement of monumental arrival, of absolute belief, rapture of the soul and devoted obedience. There is always a sinister undertone in all this splendour, it goes hand in hand with power and immense wealth. The celebrity culture of the middle ages were its saints and soldiers, and here they are in abundance.
St Saviour Church, Dartmouth
In the centre of Dartmouth, in the most interesting part of the town, is this fine old church dating to 1372. It caught my eye from this low position with its dramatic angles and complexity of shapes. It is a very distinctive building, standing on a grassy area at the end of Anzac Street. Like many of the churches in this area it still has an ancient screen, and very distinctive metal work on the church doors. Its peculiar chequered history has left a mark on the architecture, for it seems to have a distinctively different character compared to surrounding churches.
I have since discovered that the church has an interesting history. It is not the original church of the town – the ‘Mother Church’ of St Clements. That was built quite a distance from the town centre, up a steep hill. When Edward I visited the town, to inspect the port as a communication link with this native Normandy, the people asked him for a new church because of the ‘very great fatigue’ in their bodies from walking up the hill to St Clements in Townstal. He gave permission, and the land was gifted by a local family.
That was not the end of the story… (continues with the next drawing)
Drawing of St Saviour Church, Dartmouth
This drawing was intended as a predecessor to the previous painting.
(Continued story of the building from the previous painting). Opposition from the local Abbot who controlled Christianity in the area, claiming that there were not enough people in the town to afford two churches, meant that it was not built. Eventually two rough monks erected a small chapel on the land, against the Abbot’s wishes with a lot of ensuing disagreement.
There is an odd story about a swashbuckling character who suddenly appeared claiming to bring a message from the Pope. He then claimed to be the Bishop of Damascus, which was false, but his permission from the Pope was true.
A local priest committed suicide, casting a pall on St Clements for it was considered unclean, and that also created pressure on finally carrying out the King’s permission 80 years earlier. Finally the Bishop of Exeter and the Abbot of Torre gave permission, and the town folk erected the church at their own expense.
Drawing of the Mouth of the Dart
There are steps leading down to a rocky beach, enough room for two picnics, near to Dartmouth Castle. It is visited constantly by restless visitors, and twice each day by the sea. I found a perch down there, quite a lot of steps, and passed an hour on this drawing. It shows the outer bay at Dartmouth, for this place is just around the corner from the castle, and looks out to sea. There is always an echo of the romantic tradition in drooping glades and restless sea.