Dear Mr Comper



The Comper Restoration

Revd.Hugh Tatham’s letters and those of his mother, Betha to the architect together with photographs of the work today revealing some of  

the story of the project.


The letters and drawings are part of the J.N Comper Collection, RIBA Drawings & Archives, British Architectural Library. These are held in the RIBA Drawings & Archives Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum. 

They are found in 13 boxes of uncatalogued correspondance 1906-1959. Boxes CoJ/101-103 were examined to reveal these contents  There is also a folder of related drawings of which date details are included. The images were supplied by the RIBA Drawings & Archives Collection at the Victoria and Albert Museum.,with permission to reproduce on this website Thanks are due to the curators who facilitated the visit to make these researches possible.  




04 Nov 1910

Ernest T Jago from Comper’s studio visits Ryburgh probably to do initial “existings” and measurements.


Ernest T. Jago formerly chief draughtsman in J F Bentley’s drawing office  (worked on Westminster Cathedral)




Postcard Jan 22nd. 1911 (or 1912!)

I am very glad to see your handwriting I began to fear you had gone abroad I am very sorry to hear that you have been seedy. What a pity we ever have anything to do with Chancellors. They should be treated with silent contempt in most cases though I believe in this Diocese things are alright and we have a reasonable one. It is most mysterious about your long letter to my mother, I trust when you have time you will manage to work up the matter again. I am glad you really think you will be able to come here at the end of this month. The trains you mention are alright and will not be changed. I know as I have a MGN timetable which is covered up to the 10th.of July. By this your train leaves Lowestoft 8.35, Yarmouth 9.15 arrives Fakenham 10.47 where I could meet you and the Great Ryburgh train leaves here at 3.51. I will inform Fisher and get him over.

Yours sincerely,



White Sunday June 4th 1911

Dear Mr Comper,

How are things going on? I had hoped by now to have heard from you but William of Cantley says never expect anything. The work on the outside, i.e. the trenching is practically completed and now I am very anxious to know how the plans for the interior are proceeding and how soon I could show them to the contractor to find out the probable total cost. I of course want if you can do so to have the whole plans, i.e.  East window, Reredos, Altar, Chancel levels together with the tower staircase and gallery placed before the contractor or contractors and estimates got out to see what we can do chiefly because if we can do the whole thing it will simply be cheaper i.e. if we can do the lot then we might begin the gallery and so only have to move the organ once. Having moved it got the organ in place and then proceed to close Chancel and do that. I hear you have designed an Altarcloth which was too elaborate and which you felt so yourself. I hope however by now you have designed a simpler one so that my mother can get started on it as she so much desires to do it before all the long days of light are over. Please let me hear how things are going and of course whenever you or Mr Bucknall care to come down and see the Church again and talk matters over, please come only sending a P.C .or wire in advance to warn us.

Yours sincerely,





June 5th 1911 Ryburgh Rectory

Dear Mr Comper,
Fisher has been over today and we have taken measurements you have asked for. I hope they will be clear. Total width of transept wall to wall 18ft. 3 inches width between window…. Width of opening… Height form present base of floor to capital of arch. …Total length of transept….outside edge of the screen would be to South wall 28ft 6. Hope this is what you wanted.
I find there are no tiles in the transept in the floor. Between the seats is stone and I feel almost sure we will find more tiles when we take up the present floor The matter of hot water pipes we are considering. As soon as you can, let me have a rough kind of sketch showing Altar and screen etc. I should like to have it in place before the people. I wonder much what you would propose re roof which is vile
I think you or the Lizard will have to come and have a look to renew your memory.
Yours sincerely,



June 20th. 1911
Dear Mr Comper,
I have been cussing you like brother William and as a result received your letter this morning. I now enclose rough sketches and measurements which I trust are quite clear. It’s funny work trying to explain the odd decorations and make it all clear but I trust you will be able to gather the particulars you require. Of course the nuisance is the many levels and I only wish I could have got all those put right before we started originally. Let me know if you want any further particulars and do let me have just a rough idea and sketch of what you consider would be the plan to proceed upon.
Yours sincerely,







3rd/4th July 1911  J.N. Comper and A.S.Bucknall visit Ryburgh although not for the first time


Good Shelter Penn  July 8th


Dear Mr. Bucknall

I am glad to hear that Mr. Comper wished my work to be begun he knows I could not do it without – I only received the frame at 6p.m. last eve. & wrote at once to your Aunt – It has seemed to me since that I had better return all the silks gold &c that the shades may be numbered according to the design but it seems needless to return the frame as I can keep it to work when the first is done & a third prepared – I therefore send you the materials- Your car must have grown since I saw it as it accommodated such a large Ryburgh party – I am sure they greatly enjoyed the expedition – I am going to Ryburgh this day week for a short visit & shd. Like to begin my work there

Yours sincerely

Betha Tatham

My best regards to Mr Comper – I shall be writing to him shortly about the gravestone  


Tylers Green Vicarage, High Wycombe Bucks July 9th 1911


Dear Mrs. Tatham,

The design for the stone is beautiful and I quite approve.

As to the inscription, please have Latin if you wish ,but please let me see it beforehand, and I will try and see whether I can translate it. I am writing Mrs Tatham

Yours very sincerely,

R  F Ashley Spencer


Good Shelter Penn Bucks July 10th.

Dear Mr. Comper,

I now return the drawings for my dear husband’s gravestone. I prefer No 1 which is also the one

You wrote that you like best- I am still a little puzzled about the inscription as I am not a scholar & yet prefer Latin knowing that my husband chose it when he could- As far as I can read it I like the Latin inscription on No 3 but perhaps you have others to suggest.- The name would be George Edmund Tatham and the date of death Dec:25.1910 I am still longing for my work! – I go to Ryburgh on Friday next for a week.

Yours very truly

B Tatham.

P.S. I have as you see my enclosed note the consent of our Vicar here & all my children have seen & approved the design.


Ryburgh Rectory July 19th


Dear Mr. Bucknall

I now return the drawing of the gravestone with which I am quite satisfied-The only question now is the inscription. My son Fredk. has copied it as far as we can read it & added the age but there is one word which we cannot make out where he has inserted this_ _ _ _ Would you kindly  send me the whole of the words in English lettering addressed to me at Good Shelter Penn where I shall be on Saturday. I am also sending the drawing for my frontal work as I want to know exactly where the gold cord is to be & where only gold thread. (You will remember taking away my gold cord in the Cantley frontal!)

Miss Bucknall has put gold cord where I have marked without any? And it seems to me that it must therefore be carried on one side as far as the acorns in each corner. Then where the acorns have only a straight stalk it looks in the drawing as the cord were marked in one and not in the other. Will you kindly make this clear to me & return the drawing to Penn? I have taken notes for the leaves &c which I can work here.

Yours very sincerely

Betha Tatham


Good Shelter Penn  July 23rd.


Dear Mr Bucknall,

Thank you for the drawing now quite clear for my work- also for your copy of the inscription. I enclose our Vicar’s criticism. I am wondering whether I had better have an English inscription as classical scholars seem to differ even as to spelling! There is one mistake which must be rectified as altho’ my dear  must husband was not 80 till Nov. 12.1910  still he died in the 80th year of  his age- When Mr. Comper returns I daresay he will consider this again.

Yours very truly

Betha Tatham


This letter is annotated in pencil by Bucknall

V after M Mr. C. says, if is medieval latin, & it is more consistent to spell it in the medieval way- and even in our English of today we are as in  the word”medieval” allowed  to drop the dipthong!

But if the other spelling is insisted on it is possible to get it in and would be less upsetting  than now to have an English inscription.


The following plans are dated  July 10th 1911:
The full drawing
Cross Section of Reredos specifying Christ on the Cross, 
Our Lady and 11 Apostles


July 26th 1911 Ryburgh Rectory

Dear Mr Bucknall.

I ought to have written and acknowledged the drawings you sent me on the 15th. Inst but you see I am taking a leaf out of Mr Comper’s and your book and letting you wait!! I have shown the plan of floor to Fisher and though he has given me at present no definite estimates, he has told me roughly what it will cost. Now how soon may I hope for plans of roof and East window? Once I get estimates for these I can begin on the work and the sooner the better before all the summer is gone so please therefore push on with the plans for if the estimates allow it I should then begin at once with the gallery. Once that is up then strip the roof and rebuild it if possible before the winter comes on. If you Mr Comper are down this way i.e. at Mundford or anywhere else, I should be glad to see you here to talk over with Mr Fisher the matter of heating as he has a suggestion to put before you and the only point will be the heating chambers etc. My mother has answered you re. inscription on stone for my father’s grave.

Yours sincerely

F.H. Tatham.


I enclose handkerchief you left behind in your room


Penn  July 31st.


Dear Mr Bucknall,

I think as Mr. Spencer gives me carte blanche the inscription may now be considered as passed!  I presume Mr. Comper undertakes with our local builder the fixing of the graves stone when it is ready- I shall be away from home all next month & hope to get on with my work.

Yours sincerely

Betha Tatham 


October 4th 1911 William Tatham of Cantley to JNC:

Dear Comper,

A very practical man who restores old oak tables etc and is really interested in it told me how he gets his new oak to look like his old ………….one pint of water to it, let it dissolve, keep shaking it up well. When all is dissolved put it on with brush then let it get well dry before rubbing the beeswax in. He didn’t tell me the quantity of raw oak stain but has sent me 2 ozs as I suppose that is his quantity with 1 pint of water. His work is very good- Abraham of Scawby* is his name and you will see lots of old oak etc he’s done for my brother at Ryburgh


(* F.H.T. Vicar here 1904 -1910 before he came to Ryburgh)


The full drawing dated Nov 21st 1910




Dec 22nd. 1911

Dedication of the Gallery






Jan 26th. 1912

Date on full size drawing of Reredos originally with 6 East Anglian Saints and central Christus



Feb 29th

Dear Mr Bucknall.

Fisher will send particulars of monument when he hears from you. Now to report what we have found of which Fisher will send further particulars. Having taken up the present floor, we renewed some of the made-up ground, old mortar brickbats etc. and dug down to find the bases of the Chancel arch. These we have found and we are 20 inches below the present floor level of the chancel and show distinctly that the chancel floor should be at least 20 inches lower than the present floor i.e. six at least lower than present plan which would mean two steps down to bring the base clear. Then we find that at some time there has been a tiled floor 1 foot lower than the present floor with three tiled steps. The first we have not definitely found, the second and third being steps to the Altar. We have found a vault, 1841 from which we are reverently removing the remains and replacing it at a lower level as they would be above the new floor if left or about the height of the concrete. This last is in confidence as we naturally don’t want a fuss made. I will try to get Mrs Tatham to make a rough sketch of as much of the bases as at present can be seen. (Drawing)

Can you understand this?

We can see now quite definitely that the original floor level was at least two feet below present as we have dug through this afternoon. Off to Bedford for a week tomorrow so if you want to write, address me C/O Major J.S Lightfoot Anchoret  De Pary’s Avenue Bedford.

Yours in haste,



This is the base of the monument, the bottom step is quite perfect and at one corner is just the suspicion of the next step. Two pieces of stone with red and blue painting showing were found amongst the East end rubble of course saved. They must be bits of the monument. The base is on red brick foundation about level with the old brick floor.


March 6th


Dear Mr Bucknall,

Just a line to enclosed drawing and explanation sent by my wife this refers to the monument of which I sent you particulars. I suppose this base will have to be taken up now as the old brick floor referred to is not down to level of proposed new floor. I have no reply from you as to discovery of original level of the Chancel which is lower than proposed new one. Friday can go home if I can get there and there is coal for the railway.

Yours in haste


C/O Major Lightfoot,*

DePary’s Avenue



*Major John Stanley Lightfoot (abt 1855-1939), married Katharine Thurnall, sister of FHT's wife Helen


April 13th. Ryburgh Rectory

Dear Mr Comper,

I do not know what you will think of the latest suggestion of Fisher’s re heating apparatus but certainly to me it does not sound as if it could be done without disfiguring the church. i.e. carrying pipes up the tower and then down near the gallery but of course I leave that to you to decide. To me the far better suggestion is carrying the pipes along below the floor level having gratings just by the side of the seats not more than six inches wide so not coming in the footway of the Nave and making a noisy walk. I understand they would then go to the centre of the Nave and Transepts and from thence distribute to the radiators in centre and Transepts as well as Chancel. This would work well. They are now busy on the Chancel roof and I hope your man in London is getting the panels ready so there may be no delay caused by having to wait for them. I trust also the Reredos is in hand.  I enclose a photo of St Hugh of Lincoln, i.e. the statue on Lincoln Minster put up as they state within the time when those who knew him in life could and would know and be able to help in making a lifelike statue. The worst of it is there is no swan but this could be added easily I only send it in case you would like to see it and make use of it. Please return it when you have done with it. Hoping to hear from you soon,

I am yours sincerely,



May 1st 1912 Ryburgh rectory

Dear Mr. Comper,

I received Mr Jago’s* letter re heating apparatus dated April 23rd for which many thanks. Now I am getting anxious re Chancel on the question which begins to arise when will it be ready for opening as I have to do so much arranging so that all the family may be here. I have spoken to Fisher about it and he says that as far as he is concerned it can be ready if only he can have various things from you.

1 What about the floor? Is the piece of paving on the North side to be left as you said at first if so what is to be done for it is two and a half inches above the general level of the rest of the chancel. It seems simple to me for it would be alright as there is the base of the monument to the West of it giving a level of its own and therefore that might be better at a higher level with an edging to hold it and the communicant kneeler could be made to fit over the different level.

2. When may Fisher expect to have details of East window for which he is waiting? This could be got on with if only he had the detailed plans.

3. Have you given orders for the panels (fibre plasters) for Chancel and for the Angels? When will they be ready to put up?

4. Have you given (as you promised)  the order for Reredos and have they started doing it and when will it be ready?  What we are working for is the Chancel to be re-opened about the last week in July or first in August. Fisher can do this if only you will answer all these questions and let him have details at once. I know you will think me a worse nuisance even than W.M. but remember my dear Mother is getting on in years and I do want her to see the work finished and also to be able to be here for the opening and it has been roughly arranged with her and the other members of the family that the opening should be at the time mentioned.

Yours sincerely



* From Great Ryburgh Visitors’ Book


04 Nov 1910 / Ernest T. Jago / 10? Garfield? Rd, Lavender Hill / 05 Nov 1910 / "I will think of a remark sufficiently impressive, by next time".



May 7th 1912 Reredos now in final form in drawings




May 10th Good Shelter Penn. Bucks.

Dear Mr Comper,

Your letter arrived last night forwarded from Ryburgh so in a sense crossed my Postcard to you. I am glad the Reredos is really ordered and that at any rate the carving work has begun. I sincerely trust the panels for roof will also soon be in hand and no delay will occur with them. I thought they were designed ages ago and presume anyhow the Angel panels are as you told me that you had the moulds and had used them before. Don’t let the East window details slip your memory, we do so want to get on and have the openings as early as possible. We really should do our best to have them finished by August. Now as to St Hugh, the face of on your card of course is far nicer and certainly I think that should be used but |I trust with Mitre and not a Cowl on.

I quite agree with you re: floor if you are willing to face the infuriated archaeologists. I shall be away from home now ‘till Whit Sunday trying to get fit and well. I am here ‘till Wednesday next but might probably cross to Havre to stay with my sister for a week. So is there anything I should see near there? I can’t afford nor must I travel far. If you can suggest anything or want to write re Ryburgh write here up till Tuesday evening posting not later than 5 pm and if after that care of *A Langstaff 10 Rue de la Ferme Havre France Don’t forget St Hugh’s swan in the Reredos, and I trust you have put St Helen in the other panel, I presume with cross. Have you a piece of true cross to put in anywhere? Yours ever F.H.Tatham

P.T.O how is Sebastian’s nose progressing and how is the Chauffeur and the Star.

P.P.S. Who is to make the kneeling desks can you trust Fisher and have you got the design that won’t ruin me?


*  F.H.T.’s  Sister  Agnes Elizabeth Marion  born 1872



May 19th Post Card from Good Shelter, Penn, Bucks to J N Comper

Are you in England or where? Can I have an answer to my letter written a week ago? I am down here for a bit of rest although I have been seedy and collapsed last week and had to have duty taken last Sunday and shall have for two Sundays to come. Of course the worry caused by JNC is partly to blame. I am not fit enough to run up and see you or I would so at point of sword get answers to my queries.



July 26th Ryburgh Rectory


Dear Mr. Bucknall,

I have been taking a leaf out of Mr. Comper’s book I fear in not answering your letter of the 14th before now. Still more stupidly I at first misread your letter as to the drawing of the chancel floor. Now feeling very seedy, I was in bed most of last week and feeling in a penitent mood and so will write and first  thank you very much for the drawing of the Reredos which I am glad to have which I have sent and received back from Fr. William of Cantley. He is delighted with it. As to the drawing of the floor, I gave it to Fisher to correct his estimate and then found I ought to have sent it back to you first but I hope this won’t matter. I may get his estimate for it and the plan back tomorrow. You ask my opinion about this amended plan, well I think it far superior to the original and think the whole effect of it will be far finer than the original and I like the Altar and Reredos brought forward and the Sanctuary enlarged. It all suggests a greater dignity and I am coming to the conclusion that amended plans are best. As you know. I prefer the amended Reredos immensely as compared with the original. Would you ask Mr Comper if St Helen would be even better than St Etheldreda? I am given to understand that she was East Anglian and I believe born at Colchester. As that brings in  my father’s two Christian names, George,  Edmund,  my own second name Hugh, it seems suggestive when I heard Helen was an East Anglian Saint to bring in my wife’s name. The Chancel is now cut off and they are starting taking up the floor and erecting scaffold poles. Do you remember the monument on the wall behind the organ, Jago must have seen it. I learn now that the lower portion divided into three panels with shields with alms on formed the front of the original altar tomb. The two shields let into the wall at the side belong to the two ends of the altar tomb and probably the large Bacon slab now lying by the pulpit steps was the slab forming the top for it. It seems to agree in length. What an “illigent” drawing. This represents the one on the wall. As it is I have tried to get the Bacon family and the Kimberly who inherited estates from here to be interested but the only response was £1 from the least connected and uninterested member of the family

The direct Bacon, though very rich, Sir Heckmond Bacon of Lincolnshire who I have met refused to give anything. Kimberley and his son Lord Wodehouse have not had the decency to reply. When may we expect the “star” to turn up again with you and Mr Comper? Will any of you be coming down when we really get started on the Chancel? I shall watch the digging anxiously and had I not been seedy, should have been down there this afternoon.

Yours sincerely,




 Undated 2


Dear Bucknall,

Enclosed the floor plan of the Chancel which Fisher has just brought back. He says the amended plan will be just the same price as the original for there is give and take in one or other. We have cleared the bottom of the monument of which I sent you the sketch (beautifully done yesterday) and we find there is nothing below the present floor level. So far nothing interesting has been found but of course we have not gone down far yet. The monument has been covered over to preserve it from damage whilst the roof is done.

Yours sincerely,



September 26th 1912 date on drawing of Henry Fowler Baker communicant kneeler

Nov 5th 1912 Ryburgh Rectory.

Where are the chandeliers? Where is the frontal? We should be ready for Reredos by Monday. Anyhow it should be sent off now. I will send you word when men should be here to fix it.  Don’t delay anything now that I tell you that the opening is fixed for 10.30 St Andrew’s Day Saturday November 30th. Will you be able to come?  Will Mr A.B. (L……d) come too? Let me know at once so I can arrange about beds as I have nowhere. A  Mother, 3 brothers, 2 sisters, 1 brother-in-law, 3 sisters-in-law and two of my boys home from school to provide beds for on Friday 29th. Night.

Wish you’d been here to day, I nearly wired for you. Are you coming previous to opening or are we forgotten now for Sprotborough


Nov 8th 1912

Dear Bucknall,

Many thanks for yours. No news of Chandeliers this end yet. What a ghastly time they are about the Reredos and yet the frame and steeple? were absolutely finished ten weeks ago and the carving and poles?  six weeks at least. You have not answered as to opening. Can you and Mr C come and will you come? If so when will you arrive we must know as soon as possible to arrange for  as I said before I have about 15 already to arrange beds for Friday |November  29th and about 7 less on Saturday.

Now three questions:

1 Is there a rod needed to support the frontal, if so what size and material should it be? I see there are supports in plan of Altar. How many such supports should there be?

2 How high are the supports to be?  i.e. how long is the frontal from where it hangs,

or how deep is frontal?

3 Has Reredos really been sent off?  I shall send word when men must be here to fix it on Monday

I have one question, Are you supplying rings or what are you wanting for the hangings on the riddles. Yours in haste


9th a.m.

PS I have just discovered this morning that the chandeliers are here. My silly idiot of a servant had taken the box in and put it away and never said a word about it to me.



November 9th. (1912) Ryburgh Rectory

Dear Mr. Comper,

I don’t know who is responsible though I am most certainly not for this muddle about Reredos. I wired as I did to you this morning as yours was the only private address I knew, and thought you might know Gough’s private address and stop his men coming. I received a letter this morning from Gough saying the Reredos had left London on Friday and two of his men were coming to fix it and would arrive mid-day Monday. As the Altar is not fixed, they could do nothing so there was no use their coming. Why he said he was sending them I can not imagine and I wrote to you and Mr Bucknall and …..twice over that I would let you know directly we were ready for the men but to send on Reredos directly so that I could wire for men and not have to wait for Reredos. I hope you manage to stop them. I was and am still awfully sorry to have to wire on a Sunday but what was I to do? Now another thing please let me have an answer re November 30th. Also please send me patterns of blue linen of which hangings are to be and the blue Damask of Altar frontal if you can by return of post.



November 12th (1912)  Ryburgh Rectory

Dear Mr. Bucknall,

Thank you for your letter received 2nd post today. I have already written to Mr Gough and told him men might leave on Thursday to come here. The man who came on here has a mother living at Colkirk 2 miles away and he wanted to pay her a visit so was to come in handy for when the work is ready. Fisher was here when your letter arrived so I arranged about rods for the Altar and all else I. am very pleased with the Chandeliers, we were busy cleaning them last night. I am sorry you can not come to the opening. Please tell Mr Comper we shall be very pleased to see him before the opening. However may I make a suggestion? Why don’t you both motor or rail down for the weekend before the opening i.e. Saturday 23rd. If this doesn’t suit, let him say what time will and we will arrange it accordingly. We can find a small room for Mr Comper still if he gets to come for opening if he lets me know at once otherwise I shall try to get a priest here to take High Mass and save myself a bit as I shall have so much on my shoulders that day. Ask him to send me a postcard definitely of that about coming for the opening. I don’t want to put him off at all please understand

Yours in haste,


November 18th. (1912)

My Dear Mr Comper,

I must just write a line to tell you that the Reredos is up in place, the Altar front finished and all but a few finishing touches done in the Chancel. The Reredos is lovely, far surpassing my expectations and the carving and colouring perfectly wonderful. Do you need criticism? There is only one thing I don’t like and that is the face of the Christus. I never have cared for a beardless Christ. The Frontal has also arrived safely though I am surprised it did for it came by goods train. The parcel showed evidence they were very frightened about it at first. The only blemish however is tarnishing of the silver braid. There is one other blemish but nothing to do with the carriage and that is there is no means of hanging it on the Altar. There are slots for the supports on altar to pass through to hold the rod. When you come down if you change your mind we still have a small room vacant on the 29th. I am too tired to write decently but felt I must send you a line.

Yours very sincerely,


You mean man I am returning your supply patterns!!



November 30th 1912

Re-opening of the Chancel



Dec 3rd. 1912 from Betha Tatham

Dear Mr Comper I was much disappointed not to have the pleasure of meeting you at Ryburgh.....................


Dec 5th

Dear Mr. Bucknall,

You must forgive me my not writing before and to see also but I can only just manage to write now as I sprained my wrist last Thursday and am still bandaged. I am very sorry Mr Comper was unable to come to the opening for many reasons and also for the cause. I hope he is now better, Get a Church Times this week and see account therein. I expect he has heard as also Miss Bucknall* from my mother, the latter re frontal. May I add how very disappointed I was to find that one and a half to two inches short of ten foot. I expect it is those infernal tape measures women will use. The second frontal is the same.  It is a great pity it is a terrible eyesore to us. I expect my mother has written re the Reredos. All the family think it is lovely and with one exception and that is the Christus. We none of us like the beardless face and also think the face effeminate and too young. The face of St John though beardless is much stronger. We should like to know why the Christ is represented beardless. Can Mr C give us information?  It seems against history and tradition. The Jews I am told never shaved. When does he suggest coming down, Mrs Tatham and I shall be away from Monday December 9th early to Wednesday quite late  but otherwise we shall be here and right along probably now we want a change and rest. Forgive scrawl

Yours sincerely,




*Comper's sister-in-law, Lucy Bucknall ( 1859 1937) Trained by the Sisters of Bethany




May 16th 1913

Dear Mr Bucknall,

I am glad to hear that you and Mr Comper are still in the land of the living. I began to think the Suffragettes had potted you both. I was meaning to write to tell you how very much the Bishop of the Diocese was struck with the Reredos on his visit here especially with the Christus and so much so that he has written since and told me he had advised the Vicar of Wymondham to make enquiries from me as he is thinking of putting in a Reredos. So when the Vicar returns from his holidays he is coming to see me in the Church and I suppose I must advise him to come to you though perhaps I must warn him he might need expect nothing for a few years from you. Well now as to the gas bracket what on earth is there objectionable in the bracket sent. Surely it is simple quiet and insignificant and it doesn’t draw attention. Of course Mr Comper’s is quite out of the question, is it made of gold? Why, the brass pendants from L Britain only cost £3-3-0d apiece. I say his are out of the question for this reason that the price of them would be with the standards for the gallery and the pendant for organ if on the same scale about double the cost of the whole installation. Whereas with the bracket I sent I could get the lighting in wonderfully reasonably. I should like to see the design and see what our people could make them for and also to know what metal they are to be made of.

Yours sincerely,


May 31st. 1913 Ryburgh Rectory.

Sorry to have kept you so long waiting for address of Blacksmiths but I had lost it.

It is E Allen, Blacksmiths Blakeney Norfolk. Candlesticks are about 6/6d each.

I can’t understand Mr C. liking brass brackets for gas. They remind me of Pratt or Jones and Willis. I am submitting the new plans to gas people

Yours F.H.Tatham





April 15th 1914 Ryburgh Rectory

Dear Bucknall,

I was away from home when your letter arrived and I have been very busy in consequence since my return so I fear put your letter on one side until I had more leisure, not that I have a great deal even now. This I think you will understand when I tell you shortly my doings during the past 6? 8?) months.  On August 20th.  last, I was run into by a motor car coming round a corner on the wrong side of the road and cutting the corner into the main road on which I was riding on a motorbike. By a miracle I was not killed and at first thought the damage was not so great as it has proved. Since then I have been a cripple unable to do anything on account of the damage to my left knee. At last in July it was decided that I must have an operation which was performed in London on July12th. after which I went to recover. Now with care I have good hopes of a permanently good joint in the knee though at present of course it is very weak. Naturally due to all this my affairs have got rather behind though |I am trying to put things straight so I am sending you herewith a cheque in settlement of the account to you. Enclosed with apologies for the delay. With regard to Fisher’s account, his estimates were as follows:


Gallery: £95


Woodwork of roof: £177


East window: £135


The Floor of Chancel: £65


May I just draw your attention to one point, it seems... that the Reredos was a gift from the Family and calculated out by them at a price and your figures now in the accounts don’t agree with Mr Comper’s in his estimate of January10th. 1912 which were as follows:


15% on Messrs. McCullogh’s* and

Mr H A B Smith’s*accounts


for the

Reredos:   £193 -10-0d   and £28-15-6d 


This is a small item I know but may put my accounts wrong and so I enclose cheque as per bill of January10th. 1912 with postal order for difference of 5/-

The bracket I presume a brass one should be returned to me.

Now to turn to the news at the end of your letter I had not heard a word after receipt of your letter I saw someone who told me that she’d heard and that you were very much enraptured etc. I congratulate you most heartily and wish you and your fiancée I don’t know her name every happiness. I can’t think how you and Mr Comper will get on now for certain. With you engaged and he always with his head full of other things I should think you’ll never get him up to time at all. Tell him I owe him a grudge, he never acknowledged that I got him Wymondham church and yet I was a good deal responsible. Where are you going to live?

Kindest regards from all here to you and Mr Comper and not forgetting Sebastian.

I am yours very sincerely



* Messrs J. Mc Cullogh & Co Ltd  Alabaster carvers 

Precursor of W.D.Gough see: Nov 9th & 12th  1912


* H.A.Bernard Smith  Painter, Decorator and Gilder (Atelier)



Lest we forgot what all this was in aid of, it was to honour the memory of this man,

Revd. George Edmund Tatham. 

pictured in his final years with his wife, Betha who was responsible for the beautiful nedlework

that we can still see and admire  today, more than 100 years after it was made. 





copyright this transcription 2014


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