House of Mercy Chapel

In 1867 St Mary’s House of Mercy, a ‘penitentiary for fallen women’, was built with an infirmary and a chapel ( It later became a home for children, until 1959 when the building and chapel were demolished.

Altar Frontal – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5); after 1911

An altar frontal for the chapel bears a nativity scene carved in wood, almost identical in design to the one in alabaster at Ermington (1911) and very similar to the one in wood at Abbotsbury (1924). A maquette made for the Ermington carving (which is the finest and undoubtedly the first) was retained by V. Pinwill and can be seen in a photograph of the workshop in PWDRO 244/5, datable to 1917. The interpretation of the maquette in this altar frontal is not as elegant as either of the others, although it is still a beautiful piece of work. There is no mention of the architect involved, if indeed there was one, but equally there is no indication of how the commission was obtained. The whereabouts of the altar is unknown (J. Blore, Team Rector, Halstead, pers. comm.).


PWDRO 244/4 Photograph Album. Various. Woodcarvings.

PWDRO 244/5 Photograph Album. Various. Woodcarvings.