SX4387 : Bench end - St. John the Baptist

taken 5 years ago, near to Stowford, Devon, Great Britain

Bench end - St. John the Baptist
Bench end - St. John the Baptist
In 1874, restoration of the dilapidated church was underway and overseen by the newly knighted architect, Sir Gilbert Scott. Harry Hems was commissioned for wood and stone carving. Harry Hems owned and ran the Exeter firm of ecclesiastical stone and wood carvers based at the time in Paris Street.

The bench ends in the church of St. John the Baptist are supposed to be examples of some of the best of any Victorian restoration work in the whole of the UK. The church booklet revised by Audrey and Stan Mason in 2010 records that Harry Hems employed two wood carvers from London by the name of Dyer and Moultrie to do most of the carving.

The bench end near the priest's door on the south side of the church is probably the work of one of these men and shows the head of St. John the Baptist with the image of a knife carved below his head. The knife being a reminder that he was executed by beheading. SX4387 : St John the Baptist, Stowford SX4386 : Inscribed stone in Stowford churchyard

A curious detail, only just visible in the photo, was added to the knife blade - the letters IXL which Hems adopted for his own self-promotion (indicting his proud boast.... namely:- "I excel" SX4387 : Detail of carved knife showing IXL feature). The letters, with an asterisk as in I*XL, were initially a corporate mark formally registered to his mother's Wostenholm family who ran a large and very successful Sheffield firm of cutlers.
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SX4387, 14 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Tuesday, 5 March, 2013   (more nearby)
Thursday, 7 March, 2013
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Village, Rural settlement  Religious sites 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SX 432 870 [100m precision]
WGS84: 50:39.7126N 4:13.1604W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SX 432 870
View Direction
Northeast (about 45 degrees)
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