Friday, May 29, 2009

A Church of Herbs

A Herbal illustration of Carnation Pinks 1578Dioscorides de Materia Medica 15th Century edition

The blue flowered herb Borage on embroidered seat cover

All Saints' Church Brockhampton ,England

All Saints' Church in the village of Brockhampton is well worth visiting if you happen to be in the UK in Summer. It is in Herefordshire and lies between Hereford and the market town of Ross-on-Wye.. It was designed and built in 1902 by one of the leading Arts and Crafts architects William Lethaby. The Arts and Crafts Movement (approx 1880-1910) embraced nature as a design source, and took inspiration from the naive charm of 15th and 16th century illustrated Herbals. Also influential was the work of designer and architect W G Paulson Townsend who had published his book Plant and Floral Studies for Designers ,Art Students and Craftsmen in 1902.
When I visited this church, I made the following notes on the back of the postcard pictured above. All the hymn book covers, 72 in all, have been hand embroidered with a different herb.... very delicately done. The alter cloth has similar herbs ,each numbered so that you can refer to a book in the church about the uses of each quotes from Herbals such as that of Gerard etc. Also a feature are two excellent tapestries from the workshops of Pre Raphaelite artists Burne-Jones and Millais.
It is interesting that now in the 21st Century ,the Japanese are so enamoured by this church that they are building an exact replica on the 22nd floor of a tower block in Osaka.!


  1. It is an interesting subject, herbs. Materia Medica is a wonderful book; I wish it were mine! When I look around in my home herbs are everywhere in books, stiched, embroidered, painted and growing.

  2. Very interesting the book Materia Medica, i love this kind of ilustration.