Lectern thumbnail 1
Lectern thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Lectern


This lectern was designed by the architect Philip Webb (1831–1915) in 1897 for the Rochester and Southwark Deaconess House, a religious community and theological college for women at Clapham Common, London. Isabella Gilmore, the sister of the designer William Morris, was a Deaconess. She knew Webb as her brother's close friend and associate and commissioned Webb to design a chapel to be built at her own expense.

Webb supplied drawings to the firm John Garrett and Son of Clapham, London, who built the chapel. In this, Webb's final church commission, architecture and furnishings formed a consistent whole. The V&A also holds the altar table designed for the chapel (Museum No. W.4-2003), the superfrontal designed by Lewis Foreman Day and embroidered by May Morris, Isabella Gilmore's niece (Museum No. T.379-1970), the silver cross designed by Webb and made by Robert Catterson Smith (Museum No. M.34-1970), and a pair of candlesticks supplied for the chapel by Barkentin & Krall (M.35&A-1970).


object details
Categories
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Lectern
  • Carpeting
Brief Description
Lectern designed by Philip Webb, London, 1897 with carpeting by an unknown manufacturer, Great Britain, 1890-1910.
Style
Credit line
Given by Gilmore House Ltd
Object history
The altar table and lectern are furnishings for the chapel (built 1896-97) of the Rochester and Southwark Diocesan Deaconess’s House, Clapham Common, London. The pieces were commissioned by the sister of the designer William Morris, Isabella Gilmore, who was the Head Deaconess (a member of an Anglican sisterhood). She commissioned the architect Philip Webb to design a chapel to be built at her own expense. Mrs Gilmore founded the institution in 1887 as a centre for the training of young middle-class women as Anglican Deaconesses, and once trained, each deaconess was attached permanently to one of the poorer London parishes, to become part of the daily life and provide practical help. A local firm, John Garrett and Son built the chapel, which was behind a large 18th century house at 85 (now 113) Clapham Common North Side. (Information from Dr Shelia Kirk: Philip Webb, 2005).



On 4 November 1897, Mrs Gilmore asked Webb to design fittings for it: a piscina, credence table, silver altar cross, lectern, altar, and altar cloth, and that he agreed to do so. On 25 Feb 1897 she asked Webb to put the work of making the altar 'in Builders Hands' after Webb had designed the fretted panels for it. and she also asked Webb to 'design the silver cross & get estimate, and design the embroidery for altar cover' (site book). The altar cloth was made by Morris & Co. The candlesticks that accompanied the cross were probably made by Barkentin and Krall (M.35 & A-1970) and there is no evidence that they were designed by Webb. The Webb drawings for the altar and lectern are in the BAL/RIBA Drawings Collection (altar: Webb[31]2; fretted panels Webb[31]3, (verso) lectern: Webb [31]3 (recto) and 4 (recto and verso). The credence table was apparently never designed. If there was one in the chapel, it was probably bought already, as apparently were the candlesticks, from Barkentin's. Piscina still in situ?



The Cross and candlesticks were acquired in 1970. They appeared in the Exhibition of Victorian Church Art (nov 1971 to Jan 72). The catalogue to that exhibition referred to the book: 'Philip Webb and his Work' by Lethaby, P.189, which indicated that the cross was made to hang on the east wall of the Chapel. Summarized accounts for six buildings designed and erected by Webb are in a private collection: John Brandon Jones FRIBA, (photocopy in the V&A library). In 1970, when the Deaconess house ceased to function as a theological college for women, the Trustees presented the cross and candlesticks to the Museum, together with the superfrontal designed by Webb and embroidered by May Morris, the daughter of William Morris (T.379-1970). The design for the superfrontal was also bequeathed to the museum by May Morris (Museum Number E.58-1940).



The altar table and lectern were brought to the V&A's attention in 1978. At that time they belonged to a body called Gilmore House Ltd., which owned the chapel. In 1980 the table and lectern were placed on loan on the understanding that when Gilmore House Limited ceased to be they would become the property of the Museum. They remained in store until 2003 when they were reassessed as part of a review of long-term loans. They were then accessioned and the altar table was displayed in the V&A International Arts and Crafts Exhibition, 2005 with the superfrontal; the two were evidently designed together.



Reverend David Page of St Barnabas' Church, Clapham Common informed the Museum in 2003 that Gilmore House Ltd. was taken over by South London Student Housing, an offshoot of the Shaftesbury Society. Dr Kirk, in her book on Webb, sets out that ‘In 1970 the house (now Gilmore House) was converted into accommodation for married students from overseas and their families.) An accommodation block was built within a few feet of the north front of the chapel. In the mid 1980s, and the Shaftesbury Society sold Gilmore House to a private owner in 2000 or 2001. The chapel and its Morris & Co windows remain unchanged (2005) Revd Page also said he saw a silver salver at the ‘Seeing Salvation’ exhibition at the National Gallery from the chapel.
Summary
This lectern was designed by the architect Philip Webb (1831–1915) in 1897 for the Rochester and Southwark Deaconess House, a religious community and theological college for women at Clapham Common, London. Isabella Gilmore, the sister of the designer William Morris, was a Deaconess. She knew Webb as her brother's close friend and associate and commissioned Webb to design a chapel to be built at her own expense.



Webb supplied drawings to the firm John Garrett and Son of Clapham, London, who built the chapel. In this, Webb's final church commission, architecture and furnishings formed a consistent whole. The V&A also holds the altar table designed for the chapel (Museum No. W.4-2003), the superfrontal designed by Lewis Foreman Day and embroidered by May Morris, Isabella Gilmore's niece (Museum No. T.379-1970), the silver cross designed by Webb and made by Robert Catterson Smith (Museum No. M.34-1970), and a pair of candlesticks supplied for the chapel by Barkentin & Krall (M.35&A-1970).
Bibliographic References
  • Sheila Kirk, Philip Webb; Pioneer of Arts and Crafts Architecture (Wiley Academy, 2005) pp. 258-261.
  • Livingstone, Karen and Linda Parry, eds., International Arts & Crafts, (V&A Publications, 2005) p. 42
Collection
Accession Number
W.5:1, 2-2003

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdJuly 6, 2004
Record URL