All Saints, begun in 1865, was designed by William Butterfield and is one of his most important churches, especially its interior, which is ‘extremely characteristic of this most wilful of High Church architects’ (Cherry & Pevsner, 2004 p. 848). Edmund H. Sedding carried out alterations and additions to the vicarage in 1912 and designed a memorial cross for the churchyard in 1913 (DHC 1626B/P/204-206). Later work by the Pinwill company is situated in the Lady Chapel.
Altar and Reredos – Photograph (PWDRO 116/27 & 244/5); 1922
The design of this altar is rather reminiscent of several made for Cornish churches, except that the cross in the centre is not Celtic. In the PWDRO photograph the reredos features three paintings by an unknown artist. It is surmounted by a carving of the Madonna and child, very similar in design to the central roundel in the pulpit at St Mary’s Abbotsbury, which is based on Madonna col figlio by Guercino (GC/PA 27). A faculty dated 1922 for the reredos exists (PWDRO 2423/4) and joiner Albert E. Elliott, employed by Violet Pinwill, sent a postcard home from Babbacombe in May of that year, when these pieces were presumably being installed. They are dedicated to the memory of John Penn Milton (died July 1917 at Scapa Flow) and given by his mother Alice Ellen (John Cannon, Secretary All Saints PCC, pers. comm.). Plans for the reredos are located at DHC (1626B/P/204-206).
The photograph of the reredos, which appears to have been taken before installation, clearly shows the three paintings. The central one, in an elaborate gilded rectangular frame, is of a group of people in medieval dress in some form of celebration, while the other two are of angels, one sounding a long trumpet and the other playing a tambourine, incorporated into gilded niches. It is difficult to discern whether the paintings are themselves of any antiquity, but the style is certainly medieval. Curiously, these paintings have since been removed, the three panels covered with blue cloth, a tabernacle inserted, the whole reredos gilded, and the Madonna and child gilded and painted. The work has been done well but the removal of the paintings is rather interesting. It may have been that they detracted from the new tabernacle, or they were damaged in some way. The blue cloth probably serves the purpose of covering over the marks from fixings for the paintings. A quest continues to discover the whereabouts of the paintings (John Cannon, Secretary All Saints PCC, pers. comm.).
Cherry, B. & Pevsner, N. (2004) The Buildings of England. Devon. Yale University Press, London.
DHC 1626B/P/204-206 Plans. Babbacombe All Saints. Vicarage alterations and additions, Memorial Cross, Reredos and Altar.
GC/PA 27 Goldsmiths College Pinwill Archive. Print. Torino-Galleria Reale-Madonna col figlio. Guercino. Edizioni Brogi.
PWDRO 116/27 Photograph. Babbacombe. Reredos and Altar.
PWDRO 244/5 Photograph Album. Various. Woodcarvings.
PWDRO 2423/4 Catalogue. Devon and Cornwall Faculty Petitions held at Devon Record Office I-Z.