Frederick Leach first travelled to St Salvador’s in Dundee with Henry Halls and James Swainland on 4th August 1874. This was to set in hand the painting of the ceilings. On the 17th August 1874, David Parr recorded in his diary of places visited: ‘Left Pendlebury Manchester and went to work at St Salvador’s Church Dundee Scotland (7 weeks)’ and on 10th October, ‘Left Dundee Scotland by the steam ship Hibernia Saturday 3pm arrived at London Monday 12th 11:30am’.
Frederick Leach returned to Dundee in the autumn of 1878 with his three sons Mac (Barnett), Rick (Frederick) and Wally (Walter), to carry out the painting of the walls. Frederick recorded this journey in his diary: ’14th Sep Mc, Rick, Wally & myself start 8:50 GER to catch 12 boat for Dundee the day very calm indeed. 15th the weather rough, Rick turns up sick, he and Wally too remain so all day. Wet coming on obliges to be in cabin, the smells etc make me sick too but without retching. We arrive in port at 8 o’clock but have to remain on board till 9 o’clock in morning. Halls and a friend meet us and give a most hearty reception at Mrs Byers 9 Ellen St, where we stay’. During their stay, they visited Dunkeld and St Andrews and Frederick noted ‘Have this week had several baths at the swimming baths, Mc and Halls also’.
Their visit was book-ended on 16th September and 1st October by visits to the Dean of Brechin (James Nicolson) who co-founded the church with Bishop Forbes.
Another journey was made to Dundee in the summer of the following year for the wedding of Henry Halls and Bella Byres (daughter of their landlady of the previous year) in St Salvador’s. This time, Frederick’s wife, Mary Ann, and eldest daughter, Ada, also took the boat trip and returned to London with the newly-weds on the steamer Britannia. Frederick paid for notices in four local papers: ‘At St Salvador’s Church, Dundee on the 2d inst. by the Very Rev the Dean of Brechin, assisted by the Rev G Moor, Henry Halls, Magdalen St, Cambridge to Bella Aberdein, eldest surviving daughter of Wm Byres, 9 Ellen St, Dundee’. Henry and Bella were living in Edinburgh in 1881 but then settled back in Cambridge where they raised their five children. Henry is described in the census records as a decorative artist, a painter and decorator (manager) and an ecclesiastical painter.
St Salvador’s was designed by George Frederick Bodley and was consecrated in 1874. The decoration was renewed in 1972.
Michael Hall, George Frederick Bodley and the Later Gothic Revival in Britain and America (Yale University Press, 2015)