SK7288 : Church of St Peter, Clayworth

taken 5 years ago, near to Clayworth, Nottinghamshire, Great Britain

Church of St Peter, Clayworth
Church of St Peter, Clayworth
Nativity scene on the north wall of the chancel.
Traquair murals, Clayworth church
This remarkable set of murals was the result of a commission by Lady D'Arcy Godolhin Osborne to commemorate the safe return of her son, Captain Joseph Laycock from the second Boer War.

Phoebe Anna Traquair was a Scottish artist - considered to be the first female professional artist in the country - who lived from 1852 to 1936. She was noted for her work in the Arts and Crafts style, creating a number of murals, of which only two, including this, are in England. She also worked extensively in embroidery and later in life in jewellery and enamel work.

The murals are in vibrant colours with substantial amounts of gilding and redolent with Arts and Crafts motifs. The church's own descriptive leaflet contains a description by the artist herself of the various scenes, and as this provides an insight into her approach, I quote it here in full, with acknowledgement to both artist and church.

"At the east end, on either side of the window, are two figures, the Madonna and the Angel of the Annunciation. Above the Madonna and running round the window is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, in which the serpent is entwined; and above the Angel round the other side is the Tree of Life with the Dove (Holy Spirit). Behind the altar is an Arabesque border of the (True) Vine with small singing angels.

The North side represents a group of figures bringing offerings to the Divine Child. Immediately in front kneels a figure offering incense. Behind are three children, the first two leading a lamb and carrying flowers, whilst the third brings her heart. In this group some of the children of the family of the donor have been put in. Next an old man brings his life symbolised by a time glass - almost run out, and further back a workman brings his labour (a satchel of tools on his back). Underneath in an Arabesque border on a gold background are two medallions - one representing the Entombment, and the other a symbolical combination of the Resurrection and Ascension. In the latter some of the figures are looking into the empty grave in sorrow whilst others, looking up, see the risen life. "In our troubles we should look up, not down".

On the same side between the two arches, the subject of the fresco work is a group of the Angel Choir, in which heads of some of the children of the present choir have been utilised. Beneath on a silver tablet are the words: -

"To the glory of God, as a thank offering for the safe return from the Boer War 1899-1902 of her beloved son Captain Joseph Frederick Laycock DSO, who being at that time a Major in the Sherwood Rangers Imperial Yeomanry,served on the staff of General Sir John French KCB, this chancel has been decorated, in deep gratitude, by his mother Lady D'Arcy Godolphin Osborne."

The subjects on the south wall are Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane with the sleeping disciples, the Institution of the Last Supper and the Angels. Below are the medallions "I will lay me down in peace and take my rest, for it is thou Lord only that makest me dwell in safety" and "Thou shalt light my candle: the Lord my God shall make my darkness to be light."

On the West wall above the arch, on the right hand, an angel stretches forward offering a heart - "Create in me a clean heart O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me". On the corresponding side, a kneeling figure receives a lantern - "Thy word is a lantern unto my feet: and a light unto my paths".

Church of St Peter, Clayworth and Wiseton
This is a church with plenty of interesting features.

The church consists of nave and chancel, north and south aisles, west tower and south porch. The earliest material is early 12th century Norman, now confined to the lower masonry of the tower, with fragments of the wall between nave and chancel, and the south and north doors. The nave arcades are 13th century, and many of the windows were re-formed in the 14th century in Decorated style. The upper part of the tower, clerestory, and the eastern end of the north aisle, including the arcade arch into the chancel, are 15th century Perpendicular. A major restoration was carried out in 1874-5 by Oldrid Scott, son of Sir George Gilbert Scott, but this largely retained the existing tracery so that the appearance of the church was little changed. The most significant change was the replacement of the chancel and St Nicholas roofs with ones with a much steeper pitch.

The aisle arcades are 13th century, but clearly replace earlier arcades as the columns rise from Norman bases. They are unusual in consisting of only two arches each, although these are wide and elegant. The centre columns show another peculiar feature. They have, for want of a better description, pseudo-capitals between the column and the arch. In both arcades these mark the transition between the profile of the column and the profile of the arch, although the point of spring of the arch is noticeably lower than the decoration. The two sides have different profiles, the north side appearing to be earlier, with a much simpler profile. The pseudo-capital consists of a series of unconnected small heads acting as stops to grooves in the column profile. The south arcade column has foliage carving acting as the capital, although it is not continuous round the column.

The south aisle has a most unusual, for a village church, stone parclose screen dividing off the eastern bay alongside the chancel to form a chapel dedicated to St Nicholas. It is very simple, and rather heavy-looking, and dated from the early 14th century.

The chancel arch is 13th century with a similar profile to the south arcade. Across it stands a wooden rood screen. The lower panels of this are medieval, probably 15th or 16th century, but the upper part was created by local craftsmen in the early 20th century. The arch is slightly off centre, with the result that the screen is asymmetrical, with 3 bays on the north side and 4 on the south.

The chancel has a 13th century arch on each side into the aisles, with a further 15th century arch on the north side where the aisle was extended east to the east end of the church. Situated under this arch is the fine 16th century plaster-ornamented tomb of Sir Henry Fitzwilliam, a Tudor judge. The easternmost bay now houses the vestry.

The chancel houses what is considered to be the finest feature of the church. This is the series of mural paintings by the Scottish artist Phoebe Anna Traquair. They were gifted to the church by Lady D'Arcy Godolphin Osborne to commemorate the safe return from the second Boer War of her son Captain Joseph Laycock and completed in 1905. The main scenes depict incidents in the life of Christ.

The old font (?17th century) has been returned to use recently, replacing the one installed during the restoration of 1874-5. There are several interesting monuments inside the church, the earliest being to an inscribed slab under the tower to an early 15th century rector. There are also two Grade II Listed monuments in the churchyard.

The church is Listed Grade I; for more details see LinkExternal link
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SK7288, 121 images   (more nearby )
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Date Taken
Sunday, 5 October, 2014   (more nearby)
Thursday, 9 October, 2014
Geographical Context
Historic sites and artefacts  Village, Rural settlement  Religious sites 
Primary Subject of Photo
Church Interior 
Period (from Tags)
Early 20th Century 
Artist (from Tags)
Phoebe Anna Traquair 
Style (from Tags)
Arts and Crafts 
Subject Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 7263 8842 [10m precision]
WGS84: 53:23.2582N 0:54.5655W
Camera Location
OSGB36: geotagged! SK 7263 8842
View Direction
Northeast (about 45 degrees)
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Other Tags
Murals  Nativity Scene 

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