St. Mark, Brithdir

I stopped off en route to Machynlleth to try and find St. Mark’s, Brithdir, which I have tried to do several times previously, but without success. The truth is that it is hard to spot, next door to what looks like a private drive and surrounded by a forest of thickly planted rhodendendra. But it is so worth it ! A magical, quiet, nearly perfect arts-and-crafts church, which miraculously turned out to be open, although I hadn’t expected it to be (it’s officially open in September), designed by Henry Wilson, who worked for J.D. Sedding, taking over his practice in 1891, but with the details of execution overseen by two of his assistants – Herbert North, later of Llanfairfechnan, and C.H.B. Quennell, co-author of A History of Everyday Things.

The church was commissioned by Louisa Jane Richards, a local landowner, in memory of her second husband, the Rev. Charles Tooth (Carlo Denti, as he was known in the family), chaplain of St. Mark’s, Florence, who died shortly after their marriage. The exterior is austere, but with a finely detailed bellcote:-

The interior is also mostly plain, dominated by a lead font, designed by Wilson and cast by William Dodds, who taught leadwork at Lethaby’s Central School:-

But what is amazing about the interior is the wonderful, low relief, repoussée beaten copper altar frontal, also designed by Wilson and a great masterpiece of arts-and-crafts design, glowing in the dark of the chancel:-

Charles Tooth is depicted with his guardian angel:-

The font is nearly equally fine, also by Wilson who established his own metalwork and jewellery workshop in 1898, just after the church was completed:-

I cannot recommend the church more highly.

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