Julia Elton

All Saints Church, East Clevedon


Our guide at Clevedon on 1lth June was Julia Elton, a descendant of the original benefactor. The connection added relevance to the event and Julia's expertise in ecclesiastical decoration made for a highly informed account of the church and its history. It was built in 1860 by Sir Arthur Elton with the aim of making provision for the population of East Clevedon, for whom the parish church of St Andrew's was inconveniently remote. A product of the Gothic Revival, All Saints' was designed in the decorated style by architect C.E. Giles and is one of the finest of its type in Somerset. The Church owes its present splendid interior largely to a particularly assiduous incumbent, the Revd Francis Irving, who had a very clear idea of the kind of work he wanted to see carried out and the personal dynamism to ensure that it was accomplished. He engaged two of the finest artists of the period {he was vicar from 1899-1925) and persuaded them to respond to his vision. He raised the funds to pay for the work by a similarly direct attitude to the parishioners, who apparently adored him.


Charles Kemp was the first of the two designers engaged by Irving and he contributed two fine stained glass windows - a replacement for the East window on the theme of Christ in Glory and the Annunciation window in the Lady Chapel. Kemp's contribution was limited by his death in 1907 but he was followed by Sir Ninian Comper who worked with Irving for many years and contributed a number of light and airy window designs, the magnificent gilded reredos and the richly decorated rood screen, complete with an imposing Crucifixion. Many other fine artworks have been contributed by various craftsmen over the years including three great candlesticks by the potter Sir Edmund Elton, and a strikingly bold set of Stations of the Cross by the Austrian sculptor Anton Dupre.

Peter Johnson