Artist/Studio: Alfred Bell, Bristol,London, c.1859.
Location: Richmond, Tasmania, Australia.
Building: St John’s Catholic Church.
Restoration: Gavin Merrington, Hobart 2009.
Photos dated: 9 Oct 2010
Closeup shots of the makers mark ‘Bell Pinxit 1859’ are by Gavin Merrington in 2009 prior to restoration and conservation work.
“ST. JOHN’S CHURCH, RICHMOND, in which considerable alterations and additions have been made, affording twice the space which existed before, will, as appears from an advertisement, be re-opened on Wednesday the 9th February next. The additions consist of a spire rising to a height of 110 feet, chancel and vestry. The spire partly built of freestone – in hammer dressed masonry and picked and drafted ashlar quoins to all angles &c.- and partly wood painted and sanded – is surmounted with a gilt cross. In the porch, from which a stone stairs leas to the choir, is a wrought and moulded holy water stoup, and over the choir the belfry is situated. The chancel contains piacina, sedilia, and window with elaborately wrought Gothic tracery. The gables of nave and chancel are surmounted with enriched stone crosses, and the windows glazed throughout with lead lights. A bell manufactured by Murphy, Dublin, has lately arrived for the spire, and for the chancel a stained glass window is daily expected from England. The Church, situate on a beautiful eminence, is the first object seen from every approach to Richmond, and is now quite an ornament to the District. A considerable dept has been incurred in these improvements which it is to be hoped the ensuing collections and bazaar will afford sufficient means to liquidate”.
The window described above was made by Alfred Bell of London and has the mark “Bell Pinxit 1859,” in the lower portion of the centre light. This window was restored in the early 1900’s, possibly by Brooks, Robinson & Co Melbourne, who seemed to have completely changed the style and colouring of the figure of St John in the left light, which now appears at odds with the rest of the facial figures in the window. The entire three light window was again restored in 2009 by Tasmania’s historical restoration and conservation expert, Gavin Merrington. The face of ‘Salvator Mundi’, or Christ as the ‘Saviour of the World’ in the centre light is now a replica by Gavin of a the original face that was damaged beyond repair. Gavin’s attention to detail and meticulous study of the original fragments is remarkable and the replica is now almost completely indistinguishable from the original damaged piece and it thoroughly complements the original facial figure.