St George

Dittisham Cross
Cross at Dittisham

Candlestick (2) and Cross – Church correspondence (DHC 967A/PW/2/f/23); 1952/53

The only evidence for this work is correspondence held in DHC. It consists of a series of letters received by the incumbent the Revd E. Claydon from Violet Pinwill and Mrs Norah Bowater of Stoke Lodge, Stoke Fleming, who appears to be the benefactor for the order of two candlesticks and a cross for a side altar. The letters start ordinarily enough with Violet and the Revd Claydon discussing the design of the items during July and early August 1952. The Faculty was granted in late August and the order accepted in September, although discussions about the detail of the design went on into October.

Between then and the delivery of the candlesticks and cross in January 1953 something went terribly wrong. Mrs Bowater returned the items to Violet and in a covering letter, copied to the Revd Claydon, stated ‘I am sorry to say that I am very disappointed in the Cross and candlesticks you have made for Dittisham Church’. She goes on to itemise her complaints related to the quality of the materials and workmanship, and the lack of conformation to the agreed design. Violet’s reply, copied to the Revd Claydon, begins ‘Your letter and return of this work was a complete and unpleasant surprise. During a long and successful business career, in which I have carried out hundreds of orders (among them twenty new and restored Rood screens), such an event has never happened before’. In a long and detailed letter, she proposes various solutions to Mrs Bowater’s complaints. None of these appear to please Mrs Bowater, who begins a letter to the Revd Claydon in mid March with ‘Miss Pinwill is past a joke’ and later continues ‘I am quite prepared, providing she charges a reasonable amount for the Cross alone, to add something for her out-of-pocket expenses as I suppose she can’t help being like she is!’ The outcome of this trying situation is not revealed as the correspondence ends in late March with details of a meeting at the church to try to resolve the problem. This may have been one order that Violet regretted accepting. During a visit to the church in August 2017 there was no sign of the candlesticks but a gilded cross corresponding to a drawing enclosed in the letters is now in the North Chapel.


DHC 967A/PW/2/f/23 Correspondence. Dittisham. Candlesticks and Cross.