Saturday, 17 July 2010

Malvern Link

Malvern Link



I'm grateful to a Facebook friend Julie Allsopp, who has recently taken the following photos of the once glorious conventual chapel of the Holy Name at Malvern Link in Worcestershire.  This chapel, dating from 1893 is an early work by Bucknall and Comper. The community of the Holy Name moved to Derby in 1990 and the building has subsequently been used for other purposes.  As you will see the Comper fittings are not in good condition.  I understand that the building has been recently sold and is due to be converted into office space and the fittings restored.  I do hope it happens.    
Malvern Link
The crucifixion that formed the top of the reredos, has been removed to admit a air conditioning unit. 

Malvern Link
Said air conditioning unit. 

Malvern Link
The painted ceiling is still in good condition

Malvern Link
Abandoned riddel posts. 

More photos here.

4 comments:

Anthony Symondson SJ said...

The fate of Comper's chapel at the Holy Name, Malvern Link, is tragic. In 1988 when I put on the Comper exhibition at the RIBA we borrowed the hanging pyx. The convent was still functioning and the chapel was kept immaculately, perhaps more perfectly than any other work by Comper apart from Downside. It was still valued by an older generation of sisters, but resented by a new breed.

I remember talking to the Mother Superior and an older nun in the sacristy, praising the chapel and its contents. A younger sister (aet early 'forties) had entered. She began to glower,talked of having lived in a mud hut in Africa, and, when Bodley's conventual buildings were praised, said she had not entered the religious life to do housework. Make of that what you will, but I could not help interpreting it as a repudiation of the past.

The community sold the premises, moved and it was taken over by an Evangelical enterprise that had no interest whatever in the chapel and its contents, nor any appreciation of the conventual buildings. Damage and erosion ensued and the premises have, I believe, recently been sold for development.

Not only is this the finest work produced jointly by Bucknall & Comper, it was continuously looked after by them until both died. When their practice came to an end in 1905 Bucknall took responsibility for it; Comper returned after Bucknall's death in 1944. The community valued the chapel to the point that it seemed timeless in its perfection.

Surely it would be better to remove the surviving furniture, have it conserved and deposited in a museum as an exemplary example of Comper's work and late-c19 church art? It is one of his best works but would be meaningless to the present owners as well as being open to abuse.

Canon Tallis said...

I saw this chapel when it was in the process of being sold and I feared then that such a tragedy as is here revealed was both possible and probable. This is a national tragedy because this was one of the most beautiful things which Comper ever created.

The whole complex was wonderful and should have been purchased by Church and used for retreats and as a house of study. But there was no vision, not even with the sisters.

I am sickened beyond words.

Roger Mortimer said...

Tragic, as Fr. Symondson says.

Allan Barton said...

Thank you all, it is a desperate sight. Father Anthony, can anything be done to rescue these important fittings? Do you know who has purchased the building?