Images of Christ: Christ amid the cabbages

Rowena Loverance discusses an artwork in the heart of rural England

Close-up of Annie Walke's reredos. | Photo: Courtesy of the Chapter of Truro Cathedral.

On 8 August 1932 a group of fifty Protestant fundamentalists descended on a small Cornish church – St Hilary’s, near Penzance – and proceeded to lock up the vicar and trash the church interior. It is a reminder of how recently Christian art was a subject of passionate feelings in Britain, for what had roused their ire were artworks newly commissioned for the church by the vicar, Bernard Walke, and his wife Annie, herself a notable artist among the Newlyn group of painters, a forerunner of the more famous St Ives group on the other side of Cornwall. Happily, the Walkes had anticipated the attack and replaced most of the works with copies.

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