The Woodcarving

The distinctive woodwork in Christ Church is of special importance as its origins reside in a wood carving class for choir boys run by the Messrs Faulkner in 1887. The pupils were so successful that they soon began winning prizes and selling their work.

The first effort for the Church was the Celtic Alms Box at the North door. In 1902 four members of the class—by then a men’s carving class—carved the Bishop’s Chair, a reproduction of one found in the church of San Pietro in Perugia, Italy.

In 1904 the carving class was affiliated to the new Technical School, which developed into the Bray Art Furniture Industry.

The prayer desk and lectern were presented as memorial gifts in 1907 and 1908. They were carved to the design and under the instruction of Sophia St John Whitty, who came to be recognised as an artist of international repute. The prayer desk of gothic design and features two angels of Prayer and Praise, carved by Whitty herself. The lectern features three more delicately carved angels and a near-hidden figure of St Patrick, again the work of Miss Whitty.

The screen at the back of St Paul’s Chapel is a memorial to the wife of Archdeacon James G. Scott. It was made during the 1914 – 1918 war by Bray Carver William Glover at Messrs Anderson, Stanford and Ridgeway of Dublin (due to the Great War, the Bray Art Furniture Industry had closed).

The carving in the organ screen and canopy was completed in accordance with her own design as a memorial to Miss St John Whitty, who passed away in 1924. The finishing touches to the organ case—and Miss Whitty’s memorial—were added in 1925 with walnut statuettes of St Brendan of Clonfert and St Brigid of Kildare.

The vacant niches in the carved screen opposite the organ were filled later in 1925 with figures of St Columcille and St Kevin of Glendalough. The last of the five figures of Irish saints to be completed was that of St Cronin the virgin saint of Kilcroney, depicted rejecting a crown to embrace a cross as she renounced her royal rank to devote herself to the religious life.

In 1936 the screen on the North aisle of the church was donated as a memorial to Captain and Mrs Riall, and the enclosed space was converted into the Epiphany Chapel for weekday services. To harmonise with all the other carved walnut furniture in the chancel, the carving was carried out by William Glover, who had a particular affection for the Riall family.

A detail that no one would ever discover were it not pointed out, is that Mr Glover decorated a set of bosses in the coving on the back of the screen, successively carving of roses, violets and olives to suggest the names of the three daughters of the donors.