Busbridge – St. John the Baptist Church

Here’s a nice little Surrey church for you.

And once inside, there’s a feature at the far end that is quite unusual,…

…which is this wrought-iron chancel screen actually designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and I don’t suppose he designed that many of these.

The north wall features the inscribed names of the dead from both World Wars.

If anyone can explain to me what ‘Smirburnian’ refers to – a school, a place – I’d be most grateful [now sorted – see comments after the post].

The most interesting, if not visually pleasing, aspect of the churchyard is this monstrosity.  These are the graves of Gertrude Jekyll (left), her brother Sir Herbert Jekyll (right), and his wife Agnes (centre).  And believe it or not, this is a Lutyens design, and not, quite frankly, one of his better efforts, in my opinion.

Gertrude, of course, worked hand-in-hand with Lutyens during the design and planting of the flowers and shrubs that today still adorn the many CWGC cemeteries across the Western Front.  She even has her own website, and if you check, you will see mention of her garden drawings, which is where my path first crossed hers, as it was yours truly who first digitized many of her garden plans, some fifteen years ago now.  She seems to have dogged my footsteps ever since – once you’re aware of Gertrude she, or at least her work, crops up all over the place.  The words on her headstone, incidentally, were chosen by Lutyens: Artist, Gardener, Craftswoman.

Gertrude first met Lutyens in 1889 when she was already forty six and Lutyens was a mere twenty.  I don’t think the fact that she was so much older than him is much appreciated, and I am quite sure that, despite Lutyens fame by the early 1920s – he was knighted in 1918 – it was Gertrude Jekyll, by then approaching her eighties, who pulled the strings when it came to her part in their cemetery co-operations.

Busbridge war memorial, also designed by Lutyens, can be found in the other section of the churchyard, and we’ll have a look at it next time.

This entry was posted in Surrey, U.K. Churches, Memorials & Cemeteries - Back in Blighty. Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Busbridge – St. John the Baptist Church

  1. Bruce says:

    Re. Smirburnian: The only reference I can find is to an alcoholic beverage consisting of Smirnoff Ice (“ Smir”) and Cockburn’s Port (“burn”) named a Smirburnian. Perhaps a group of Smirburnian aficionados? Just saying. Otherwise there is a complete lack of reference/ information.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Thanks Bruce – strange that there’s no info anywhere.

    • Bruce says:

      I found no reference to it your post so I presume it isn’t necessarily connected to it. Any helpful context I can use? I shall continue to follow up on this.

      • Magicfingers says:

        Yes Bruce, check out the wording in the picture above where I wrote it (click the pic to enlarge). Part of the inscription is “In loving memory of two Smirburnians killed in action etc etc”. Hence my assumption it is/was most likely a school.

      • Magicfingers says:

        Sorted Bruce – see later comments.

  2. Morag L Sutherland says:

    I love learning something new. Thanks for this very interesting post . Who designed the triple grave stone?

    • Magicfingers says:

      Ah, well that’s because I forgot to mention the architect – I have added a sentence to the appropriate place – but it was Lutyens, would you believe!

  3. Barry Carlson says:

    On looking carefully at the text, I find the puzzle is just a case of mistaking M for H. Shirburn is in Oxfordshire, about 6 miles (10km) south of Thame.

    • Magicfingers says:

      Well I don’t agree with your ending Barry, but I reckon you are right about the H, and that’s a good spot. So taking a cue from your H, that makes it Shirburnians, and if you went to Sherborne College, as Alan Turing, John le Carre and John le Mesurier, to name three, did, then you are known as an Old Shirburnian. And I bet if someone checks the two names, Whately & Barnes on an old school roll, then they’ll be there. Thanks ever so for pointing me in the right direction though……..

      • Morag L Sutherland says:

        you must love how carefully your readers follow your posts and on occasions point you in interesting directions as in the old schools- I will follow responses with interest

        • Magicfingers says:

          I know! You should all probably have much more important things to do, frankly, but it’s ever so satisfying, if that’s the right word, that, as you say, folk tend to help me out when I need it!

      • Barry Carlson says:

        Happy to have been of some help!

        Well over 50 years since I’ve ventured into the Surrey countryside or anywhere else in the UK. So the niceties and variables of the English language, along with naming conventions, have faded from my memory.

        • Magicfingers says:

          Well, Surrey is still the most wooded county in England, and, being a Sarf Londoner born & bred, heart & soul, still close enough to the Big Smoke for easy access. Not that I have ventured into London since the world went tits-up, for want of a better expression. Anyway, your help is much appreciated, good Sir. I thankee most kindly.

      • Richard says:

        Building on everyone else’s work and ideas, I found that both Barnes and Wheatley appear among the 221 names on the Sherborne School First World War memorial in the school chapel. See https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/65814

  4. Margaret Draycott says:

    Interesting post particularly the comments after. Unusual to see the names of the fallen inscribed on the walls not known of that before.
    Lovely little church and some beautiful stained glass windows. A nice find.
    Really don’t think much of the strange design of headstones on Gertrude Jekyl’s grave but it takes all kinds

    • Magicfingers says:

      Thanks M. It was a nice find – goes to show what’s still within a fairly short drive that I have yet to explore. Beautiful windows, as you say, the originals made by William Morris & Co, and at least one was designed by Edward Burne-Jones, who worked with Morris in latter half of the 19th Century – worth looking up both if you are interested.

    • nicholas Kilner says:

      I was just thinking exactly the same thing Margaret.

  5. Margaret Draycott says:

    Did look them up and what a productive pair they were along with some friends, some amazing art, have to be honest and admit I know very little of art but if I like a painting it doesn’t matter who painted it.
    Notice one of his paintings Burne-Jones that is is in Sudley gallery couple of miles from my home will have to make a point of paying it a visit

  6. Richard says:

    There’s also a brass plaque commemorating parishioner Lieutenant William Moss of the 3 Battalion, Welsh Guards who was killed as a result of enemy action on 30 June 1944.

    He was apparently one of thirty casualties caused when a V1 came down during an athletics event at the somber Court sports ground.

    See link below for more details.


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