Desperate Romantics - Ruskin, the Rector and the Pre-Raphaelites at Easthampstead
Back in October 2009 we were very lucky to have a visit from Dr Cynthia Gamble who gave us a lecture on John Ruskin and his friend Revd Osbourne Gordon."When the Revd Osborne Gordon became Rector of the little country church of Easthampstead described it as a "Church of the worst character". A former succentor of Christ Church Oxford, enthused with Tractarian ideals, Gordon used his social network to rebuild the church and fill it with Pre-Raphaelite treasures."
Dr Cynthia Gamble first visited the church when researching her recent book "John Ruskin, Henry James and the Shropshire Lads". When Cynthia heard that the mosaic pavement in memory of Osborne Gordon was in need of restoration, she offered to hold a lecture free of charge and donate the profits from the sale of her book at the lecture to the Mosaic Restoration fund.
Dr Cynthia Gamble is one of the leading authorities on Ruskin and widely in demand as a lecturer in Britain and throughout Western Europe. She is a Visiting Fellow of the Ruskin Library and Research Centre at Lancaster University and Vice-Chairman of the Ruskin Society.
In her lecture Cynthia explored the story behind the art, uncovering the fascinating and complicated story of friendship between the Revd Osborne Gordon, Rector of Easthampstead 1860 to his death in 1883, and John Ruskin, the famous artist, art critic and philosopher. Both men came from Shropshire and Gordon had been Ruskin’s tutor at Christ Church. This was the beginning of a friendship that was to last until Gordon’s death. The lecture was illustrated with a PowerPoint presentation of photographs of Gordon, Ruskin and Thomas Jackson, the designer of the mosaic pavement.
Over 60 people attended the lecture which was well received. Afterwards people took the opportunity to look around the Church and in particular at the mosaic pavement. There was also a cheese and wine reception, hosted by the Progressive Christian Network, in the Annexe after the lecture.
It was a gathering of enthusiasts. One man had brought a framed display of the correspondence concerning Ruskin’s epitaph to Gordon. The epitaph is on the brass memorial plaque on the north wall of the sanctuary.
Also present was Mr Ian Gordon, a direct descendant of Osborne Gordon’s brother. He had fascinating family tales to tell and has passed on useful information about Gordon and the family.
Dr Cynthia Gamble’s book "John Ruskin, Henry James and the Shropshire Lads" can be ordered through the Parish Office
priced at £18.50p.
Donations can still be made via the Parish Office
, or when the church is open, and Gift Aided if the donor is a tax payer.
Currently the estimated cost of restoring the mosaic pavement is £8,000.
All cheques should be made payable to “Easthampstead Parish Church”.
Copies of Dr Cynthia Gamble's book are available to buy from the Parish Office
or download an