Merton abbey mills update - Febuary 2005

The church of saint john fisher cannon hill lane merton

New stained glass window stained glass window designed by leslie a huitson.

Archivist, Marguerite Lee-Delisle
The design brief has been to depict St Thomas Becket in one panel, and to suggest a visualization of Merton Priory (known locally as Merton Abbey) in panel two. St Thomas has important connections with Merton having studied at the priory for many years.

Archivist, Marguerite Lee-Delisle
The overall scheme of the new stained glass is to blend harmoniously with the existing windows (also designed by the artist) and those in the lower panels featuring the Stations of the Cross. An almost medieval approach to the windows has been applied from drawing board to installation, this being pertinent to the life and times of St Thomas and the history of the Priory.

Saint Thomas is depicted bearing a cross. To the left of the figure is a writing desk, on top of which is an open book suggesting the importance of study both ecclesiastical and secular. The book is inscribed with the words "into your hands o lord I commend my spirit" these being the Saint's last words as he was brutally murdered in Canterbury Cathedral. The fleur de Lyes which appear in the window are symbols of his French origins and the time spent in France by St Thomas.

The two coloured windows incorporated within the window have two tiny roundels of glass depicting two angels inscribed with "Laetabitur Justus", as sung at the requiem of the saint. Below the writing desk are images of four swords, an inverted crown, and a branch of twigs; all symbolic of the Knights who murdered St Thomas, and of the subsequent remorse and public penance of King Henry II who unwittingly instigated the deed.

The Merton Priory panel has been delicately drawn in a medieval style, the perspective attempting to magnify the importance and standing of the once vast and holy construction of Catholic Merton. The inscription is joined by the figures of two monks; the surrounding areas of Oss loosely suggesting the outlying rural and monastic environment that was Merton.

The new buildings are beginning to dwarf the Liberty buildings

The new buildings are beginning to dwarf the Liberty buildings [59.2kb]

The Liberty buildings are now looking very small as the building works progress, and the traders are continuing to face lower footprint in the market. Now that the development is with us, the sooner it is completed the better for all. We take the opportunity to reprint from issue 34 here the original planning model for you to compare with what you can see on site.

In the meantime, the Priory Trust continues to meet to try and decide how to use the funds made available by the planning agreement for the establishment of a permanent memorial to the memory of the Merton Priory. However, the most recent meeting has been cancelled, as growing information about the commerciality of the original designs, and the necessity for LB Merton to step in with finance and/or staffing if it can not be self funding through visitor entry fees, has made it clear that a rethink is needed. Following internal discussions, LB Merton will be calling a meeting of the Merton Museums in late March to address these fundamentals and the limits/extent to which LB Merton can go in the assistance it provides.

By next newsletter we would hope to be able to report in more detail on this.

Whilst on the subject of the Priory, some of you will have received the Mayor's Christmas card this year showing a stained glass window depiction of Merton Priory. This was drawn from a larger window at St John Fisher Church, and we reproduce the notes that come with it, with the kind permission of the artist and the Church:

The Bowness Garden - Spring at the Bowness Garden 2005

Steve Llewellyn reports: Now that Annie has returned to her native Ireland, care of the Bowness Garden will revert to Claire Bradfield who will tend it each weekend. It will be managed within a "greener" framework using no chemical pesticides, weedkillers, fungicides etc. The ecological aspect will be at the forefront in the planting scheme and I plan to introduce plants such as the teazle in order to attract a wide variety of bird life.

There will be plantings to encourage a good mix of insect life too. If anyone would like to donate seedlings or small plants of a suitable type please come and see us at the Wheelhouse, Merton Abbey Mills, on Saturdays and Sundays 10-5 and we shall try to utilise their offering.

Ed. 9 February 2005

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