The church of St Gregory is an otherwise plain church but with several rather ornate pieces of furnishing. Apart from the highly carved oak choir stalls and lectern described below, there is a pair of marble and alabaster altar rails that appear to be identical to ones at Shaldon, Devon, that were designed by Henry Wilson, pupil of and successor to John Dando Sedding (Manton, 2009). Unfortunately, as yet, no documentary records have been found to prove Wilson’s involvement in the design or execution of the Weare rails.
Choir Stalls – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5); 1905
As well as depictions of the life of St Gregory, these choir stalls bear elaborately carved poppy heads, reminiscent of the ones at Crantock and Lanteglos by Fowey. According to his obituary (WMN, 1921a), Edmund H. Sedding designed them for ‘Mrs Luttrell’, the widow of Henry Acland Fownes Luttrell of Badgworth Court (Margaret Jordan, Friends of St Gregory’s, pers. comm.) who died in 1893. The stalls were commissioned as part of a restoration, for which a faculty dated 1901 is held at Somerset Heritage Centre (SHC D\D\Cf/1901/28). The panels for the choir stalls formed part of an exhibiton of work by Rashleigh, Pinwill & Co., held at Harris & Sons, Plymouth, in February 1905. They were reported as being ‘very original in design, the naturalistic fruit and foliage introduced in the tracery having an extremely light and graceful effect’ (Western Morning News, 1905a p. 8). A further report in December 1905 states that the ‘very elaborate’ choir stalls had been erected in Weare church (Western Morning News, 1905b p. 6).
Lectern – Photograph (PWDRO 244/4 & 244/5); 1908
This intricate lectern was the gift of Miss Lutrell of Badgworth Court in memory of her mother Mary Anne Ruscombe Fownes Luttrell (i.e. ‘Mrs Luttrell’) who died in March 1908 (WM, 1908). The lectern features emblems of the four evangelists on brackets, while at the base four panels bear the arms of the Luttrell family and those of the sees of Bath and Wells and of the combined episcopate. It was designed by Edmund H. Sedding (Western Morning News, 1921).
Litany Desk – Photograph (PWDRO 244/5); date unknown
The PWDRO photograph of this piece is marked ‘Stratton Church’ but on a visit there in November 2011 Val Barker, church historian, stated that it was not something she recognised at all. In October 2016, Margaret Jordan, Friends of St Gregory’s, found a discarded and filthy litany desk at the back of a cupboard that she thought might be a Pinwill item. It matches exactly the one marked ‘Stratton Church’, so that after nearly five years the mystery was solved. The sides of the desk feature a stylised rose from which rise naturalistic briar stems.
Manton C. (2009) Henry Wilson: Practical Idealist. Lutterworth, Cambridge.
PWDRO 244/4 Photograph Album. Various. Woodcarvings.
PWDRO 244/5 Photograph Album. Various. Woodcarvings.
SHC D\D\Cf/1901/28 Weare. Faculty for Restoration 1901.
Western Morning News (1905a) Exhibition of Wood-Carving in Plymouth. 15 February p. 8.
Western Morning News (1905b) West of England News. 12 December p. 6.
Western Morning News (1921) Mr. Edmund Sedding. Plymouth Architect’s Death in London. Work for Churches. 23 February p. 8.