The church of St Paul’s, Barton, Newport on the Isle of Wight appears on a Leach tradecard in a list of buildings where examples of the firm’s work may be seen but the Leach diaries contain no clear reference to this work. However, The Isle of Wight County Press and South of England Reporter for Saturday 26 November 1892 carried a very detailed description of the new painted decoration at St Paul’s, attributing it not only to Leach but also crediting David Parr’s artistic hand:
‘The nave roof ornament consists of white ground, sparsely powdered with the sacred monogram and floral designs. Beneath this. on either side, a wall plate in red, white, green and black gives solidity and support. Beneath this again, the remaining wall space is occupied by a diaper in green, yellow and brown on the toned white ground. . . The west nave wall is divided into three parts. The upper wall is powdered with roses and fleurs de lys . . . This rests on a band of quatre foils . . . The remainder of the wall is painted red in plain colour, affording a resting space to the eye . . . The east aisle walls are ornamented differently, being diapered with the same pattern as the middle west wall but in different colours . . .The pilasters on either side of the chancel arch are painted plain green, framing the chancel. The chancel roof is of a soft blue, powdered with a pattern in darker blue, studded with golden stars. Between the window heads a band of strong colour is obtained by a row of seraphs, with crimson wings outspread, bearing shields with the monogram of the Holy Name . . . The wall space below is diapered in reds and gold, and the window splays are ornamented in red, green and brown on the omnipresent toned white. The oak below has been heightened by judicious gold and colour. A leafy scroll twines about the columns and frames the hangings of tapestry and plush (green and red), which give an appearance of warmth and comfort to the apse. The retable has been emphasised by gilding. The window splays on the north and south sides have been painted clear white, producing the effect of a gleam of sunlight. The dado throughout is a good solid red. It may be stated that all the ornament has been specially drawn for the work. The decorative work has been admirably carried out by Messrs Leach and Sons, of Cambridge, under the personal supervision of a member of the firm, ably assisted by Mr Parr, a leading member of their artistic staff.’
In his diary of places visited, David Parr recorded for the 28th September 1892, ‘Went to work at St Paul’s Ch Barton, Newport, Isle of Wight for 8 weeks’.
St Paul’s Barton was consecrated on the 1st February 1844. Architect: J. W. Wild.
With thanks to local historians Hilary Higgins and Chloe Sutherland for helping us to research this Leach building.