DescriptionChancel: lancet windows; east window plate-traceried of 3 lights, each under foiled oculi, with gable slit; north vestry has shouldered- arched door and window and projecting gabled bay on right with doorway down steps and lancets. Interior: elaborate floral stops to hoodmoulds of chancel windows, the archivolts corbelled. Moulded chancel arch, the inner arch supported by colonettes on floral corbels and in the arch a fine, decorative, wrought-iron screen of 1899 designed by Lutyens, made up by J Starkie Gardener, incorporating figure of Christ on flowering cross with apostles’ symbols below and praying angels. Impressive timber roof structure with differing trusses and cusped wind-braces in nave; tower supported on large-scantling timber posts with decoratively-stopped chamfers; in chancel, floral corbels support arch-braces rising to tie-beams, base of roof brattished and coved. Polished stone altar rail and reredos with 3 central cusped panels. Brass plaque on north chancel wall records building details. West window and chancel windows, designed by Burne Jones and made up by Morris & Co, depict Christ and Saints; nave windows by A R Nicholson. Original octagonal panelled stone pulpit with traceried top. Square stone font, the traceried basin supported by colonnettes on moulded base. C Sloan, St John the Baptist, Busbridge. (Historic England, list entry 1352706)
Most remarkable the mysterious and moving ROOD and CHANCEL SCREEN combined, done under the influence of Gertrude Jekyll, and made in iron by J. Starkie Gardner from designs by Lutyens of 1897, installed in 1899. It fills the upper parts of the knobbly Middle Pointed chancel arch, a system of slender uprights ending in mid air in a complex set of loops and scrolls and supporting, clear of the frame, Christ with outstretched arms above two kneeling angels face to face – the latter the favourite Art Nouveau composition acting as the roots of a tree-like composition which leads to the figure of Christ above. With exquisite calculation Lutyens arranged that the composition is always seen against the dark chancel roof, to increase the sense of mysterious transparency, and then adjusted the forward projection of the figure of Christ so that it always dominates while still remaining part of the composition. In the end perhaps the calculation is too exquisite; a pretty religious fairytale, remote from reality. Perhaps there was some blockage in Lutyens which always prevented him making the leap from wit to true feeling. The quality of carving is hard to see from ground level but is probably fairly sweet. Also by Lutyens, the luxurious marble slabs set into a small stone screen below, increasing the sense of contrast. It cannot have been easy for an Evangelical congregation to accept. The chancel was refurbished in 1910 by Muntzer & Son; alabaster REREDOS and Connemara marble COMMUNION RAIL on twisted bronze balusters. Reordering in 1994 removed the choir stalls and replaced pews of 1910 with chairs (as it was originally). – BRASS commemorating the building of the church by Philip Webb, made by Barkentin & Krall. – STAINED GLASS. E and W windows (Ramsden and Gosling memorials) by Burne-Jones, made by Morris & Co.,* 1899, with familiar blues and greens. The W window is especially effective with its cinquefoil roundel above filled with a delightful pattern of foliage. The chancel S windows have Morris & Co. glass of 1905, weaker. (O’Brien et al., 2022, pp.161-2)
BibliographyHistoric England. Church of St John the Baptist. [Online] Available from: https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1352706
O’Brien, C., Nairn, I. and Cherry, B. (2022) Surrey. Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Also Cited InNairn, I., Pevsner, N. (1971) Surrey (Pevsner Architectural Guides: Buildings of England). 2nd edn. Yale University Press.