St Wulfran’s Ovingdean

On 4 June 1867, two days after the birth of his second daughter, Mary, Frederick Leach travelled to Sussex to work on painted decorations at the beautiful flint church of St Wulfran in Ovingdean, near Brighton.

Ovingdean is the birthplace of Victorian church decorator and stained glass designer, Charles Eamer Kempe who is also buried in the family plot in the churchyard. He was heavily involved in the restoration and redecoration of the church in the 1860s.

A painted panel in a corner of the chancel ceiling states that Charles Eamer Kempe completed the work with his associates (‘cum sociis fecit’) on the Feast Day of Corpus Christi 1867.

Some details of Frederick Leach’s involvement can be gathered from a Cashbook for the Leach firm in the collection at the Museum of Cambridge. The work took thirteen and a half days, travel and luggage was charged for between London and Brighton (not Cambridge) and for lodgings in Brighton. Quantities of paint colours, including Vermillion, Chrome Yellow, Indian Red, Vandyke Brown, Mineral Green and Burnt Umber had been given ‘to Village Painter’ (presumably for mixing but perhaps he, too, had a hand in the painting?).  Extra ‘sundries’ included tacks, glass paper, mahlsticks and charge for ‘wear of pencils and fitches’.

Frederick Leach continued to work with and for Kempe on several churches after this, including St John the Baptist, Tuebrook, until they parted company finally in 1874.

See also Adrian Barlow, Kempe, The Life, Art and Legacy of Charles Eamer Kempe (Cambridge, 2018), esp. pp 28-30 and his blog for The Kempe Trust:



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