A FAREWELL TO RUSKIN'S PARISH PRIEST

Illuminated memorial manuscript on vellum presented ‘To the Rev. Stephen Bridge on his relinquishing the incumbency of St Matthew’s Denmark Hill. 1868’ by the residents of the parish and district, and the parish school.

[Designed and executed by Witherby & Co., London, 1868.]

Folio, ff. [12], the first and last pasted to silk endpapers; black, blue, red, orange and gilt decorative penwork and borders on vellum, comprising a dedication leaf, the resolutions of the memorial committee (2 ½ pages), and lists of the contributors and all the students at the Girls’, Boys’ and Infant schools of the parish; some discolouration at the extremities from the glue used to attach the silk endpapers, else in very good condition, bound in contemporary red pebbled morocco, covers with a wide stamped gilt border, lettered ‘The Revd Stephen Bridge M. A.’ within a central circle, wide gilt doublures, blue watered silk endpapers; front joint tender.

£850

Approximately:
US $1067€994

Add to basket Make an enquiry

Added to your basket:
Illuminated memorial manuscript on vellum presented ‘To the Rev. Stephen Bridge on his relinquishing the incumbency of St Matthew’s Denmark Hill. 1868’ by the residents of the parish and district, and the parish school.

Checkout now

A beautiful memorial volume presented to Rev. Stephen Bridge (c. 1811–1895) along with a silver salver and a purse of £1000 in gratitude for his service as minister of St Matthew’s Denmark Hill since 1844, on the occasion of his transfer to the living of Droxford, Hampshire.

Bridge (BA Queens’ Cambridge 1835) had previously served in York, Hull, and Islington, before his appointment to St Matthew’s, Denmark Hill, in 1844. It was under his watch that the old St Matthew’s Chapel, built the previous century, was demolished and replaced with a new church, consecrated in 1848 but the spire not completed until 1858 (destroyed by bombing in 1940). The area’s most famous resident, John Ruskin, had been tutored at the school attached to St Matthew’s in 1833–5, by a previous incumbent, Rev. Thomas Dale, and the Ruskins then made 163 Denmark Hill, up the hill from the church, their permanent home in 1842. The budding architectural critic was quick to weigh in on the proposed plans for St Matthew’s by the architect Alexander Gough (1804–1871), much as he was involved in those for St Giles, Camberwell at the same time. A series of six letters from Ruskin to Bridge written 1846–65 (sold Sotheby’s 14 December 2021) began with a vehement objection to the design, complaining that the architect had no understanding of Gothic; but he later apologized for his ‘impertinent letter’ and expressed delight at the finished product: ‘it is really a very great delight to me to see the pretty circular end of your church and its pierced pediments projecting from the row of ugly brick houses’. Though he clearly attended the church, he was more lukewarm about Bridge’s preaching, writing to his father in 1852: ‘We heard Mr. Bridge this morning—very pleasant, but I like Mr. Moore better’.

Bridge was heavily involved in outreach work and was president of the local Working Men’s Institute (Ruskin was a strong supporter of the London Working Men’s College and gave regular classes there in 1854–8). For Bridge and the local Working Men Ruskin was to deliver a lecture in 1865 on the subject of ‘Work and Play’ (the holograph draft is at Yale), subsequently published in The Crown of Wild Olive (1866).

Despite their relationship, Ruskin is not listed among the contributors to Bridge’s leaving gift – perhaps it didn’t accord with his political principles, or perhaps he was pre-occupied with thoughts of Rose La Touche, to whom he proposed that year. But other local notables who gave money include the Beneckes (friends of Mendellsohn), Henry Gastineau (watercolourist and friend of Turner), and possibly the architect Gough.

Witherby & Co. were a firm of stationers active since 1740 – they also specialised in the production of legal documents such as articles of agreement and marriage settlements.

You may also be interested in...