On 21 September, a group from STRADFAS travelled to the south Cotswolds to visit All Saints’ Church, Selsley, the last of the Cotswold wool churches and Rodmarton Manor, the home of the Biddulph family. Both are showcases of the principles of the English Arts and Crafts movement, with local resources, craftsmanship and talent being used in the design and construction of the buildings as well as their interiors, fixtures and fittings.
Selsley church, built in the 1860’s on a hillside with spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, was designed by George Frederick Bodley and constructed from local limestone and weatherstone. The roof has stone tiles made in Tetbury and a saddleback tower, over 100 feet high, dominates the building. Internally, there are fine examples of intricate woodwork and carving as well as ironwork, but the magnificent stained glass windows are the crowning glory of the building, the work of Edward Burne-Jones, William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rosetti, Philip Webb and Ford Madox Brown. George Bodley was a friend of the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood and contributed to the setting up of Morris and Co.
Our group was given warm welcome and an excellent presentation on the history of the church, which highlighted the important features of the building.
Rodmarton Manor is an impressive building, constructed between 1909 and 1929, as the vision of Claude and Margaret Biddulph to establish a substantial family home and to provide employment for many local people in all aspects of the project, using rural crafts. A tour of the house showed us the extent of this local involvement with many examples of hand-carved furniture and fittings, metalwork forged by local blacksmiths and drapes and hangings stitched by local needlewomen. It was envisaged that on completion the house would be a focal point for the village community. The current owner of the house, the great grandson of Claude and Margaret, has embarked on a refurbishment of some of the rooms in the manor.
Following our tour, we were given the opportunity to spend time in the extensive gardens, designed as a series of outdoor rooms, with walls or hedges bordering them, it is believed by the architect of the Manor, Edward Barnsley. The detailed work was done by the head gardener William Scrubey and it is believed that work started on the garden at the same time as the house was being built. The design provides a variety of pleasant areas in which to relax and enjoy the planting and the views of the Manor and the countryside.