The Chancel Arch Inscription


Changing fashions in St Andrew’s


One of the features in St Andrew’s long since gone can be seen in a photograph labelled “Interior 1910” found in F.H. Tatham’s history of Great Ryburgh This image was either the original for, or taken from a postcard of the early 1900's:



It shows the painted inscription around the chancel arch and although it is not possible to see any detail, these features are clearly present in the photograph.

At Easter 2011, the  family living in the old Rectory opened a small chapel in the gardens and invited visitors. The quiet space they created was based on a series of contemporary icons and the words of St Luke Chapter 2 verse 14: 

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” painted on Zinc sheets and clearly of Victorian origin. They had found the inscription in its separate pieces in one of the outbuildings of the Rectory. It is undoubtedly the missing inscription from the chancel arch:



In the 1910 photo we can see on either side, beneath the springing point of the arch that there were two large tablets that may well have contained the 10 Commandments. These are still missing but below the one on the pulpit side, and possibly also on the other side was an additional rectangular plate and one of these has also survived, revealing the following inscription:



Frederick E Smith died in 1881 just 3 years before George Tatham left the parish. 

Even through the corrosion and faded colours it is possible to imagine what the new article must have looked like with all its detail. Fortunately the other memorial to F.E. Smith, in the form of the East windows of the South transept survived the restoration of St Thomas’ Chapel in 1921.



This piece of Victoriana was just one of the casualties of the “makeover” of the church that F.H. Tatham began in 1911.  However as seen in the photographs below,  it remained in place until after November 1943 which was the date of the dedication of the Rood beam installed as a memorial to F.H. Tatham’s son Paddy who had died in Singapore in 1942


An image of Paddy Tatham with the Ryburgh Swifts Footbal team in 1919-20



copyright Peter Trent 2019


Page last updated: Wednesday 2nd March 2022 4:33 PM
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