Those that know me well, know that I am fascinated by churches and they are always top of the list when I visit anywhere. Even though I may have visited before and know what to expect, I am usually surprised by finding something I missed on a previous visit.
This was very much the case when I dropped into the University Church in Oxford – mainly to have a sit down and just soak up the atmosphere.
My eyes were caught by some bas relief carving depicting scenes from the passion of Christ in the nave.
Mention Eric Gill to most people and you immediately think of the type face he designed. But there is more to the man than his type face. He was also a skilled monumental mason. He designed many war memorials after the First World War along with a frieze for the University of Leeds depicting Jesus driving the money makers from the temple, with Leeds Merchants as the money lenders. His work with its clear cut almost stylistic designs can be seen on many important public buildings.
Displayed in the nave of the University Church are some wonderful carvings produced by a local stone carver in 2004 and based on drawings made by Eric Gill for Westminster Abbey. They depict scenes of the Last Supper, Garden of Gethsemane, scourging of Christ and Christ on the cross.
With their clear cut almost simplistic designs. they are completely different from the other memorials in the church and a very unexpected surprise. I can’t think how I missed them last visit!