1885: Gateshead, England, St. Mary’s Church

Alexander Rex Scotiae  Archiepiscopus Eboracensis  Prior de Tynemouth  Gilbertus de Umfraville

Four-light window, Perpendicular Gothic tracery

Alex Scotis and others gateshead sketch copy

Watercolour and pencil on paper 376 x 270 mm.

This watercolour, apparently for a significant commission at St. Mary’s Church, Gateshead (near Newcastle upon Tyne, England) is one of the earliest surviving ‘thumbnails’ in the Montgomery collection, now held at the State Library of Victoria.  [It should be noted that early sketchbooks and class exercises from his student years in the 1870s also form part of the archive.]

It seems that this design may have been intended to fill an opening in the tower, seen in the image below.

Gateshead St Marys Church014

Exterior of the tower at St. Mary’s Church, Gateshead, in 2003    Photograph: Bronwyn Hughes

Montgomery’s rough sketch, dated 20 September 1885, was in the early stage of development, however the general structure, including placement of figures, colours and ornament were already blocked in to give a representation of the overall effect of the window. The lancet-shaped window in the Perpendicular style has two tiers of figures, prominent figures from Northumberland history fill the main section of the four tall lights, above a series of four angels bearing heraldic shields.  Smaller angels were suggested for the long tracery pieces above and heraldic work was proposed in the upper tracery sections.

Montgomery’s notes in the margins show that he intended the general effect to be of dark figures, with light faces and ornament to enhance the building; it is not known whether this window was ever commissioned.

St Marys Gateshead 1825-35

St. Mary’s Church, Gateshead, 1825-35

Sadly, the building was largely destroyed by fire in 1979.  It then became an auction room, then a Gateshead Tourist office before it was sensitively conserved and restored to high standards of conservation and opened as St. Mary’s Heritage Centre in December 2008.

Gateshead St Mary's c2010

The window opening in the restored building, c. 2010.


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