Left: The pulpit at St George's Church, Jesmond. Right: The woodcarving on the upper part.

The woodcarving in St George's Church, Jesmond, was shared by two local Newcastle firms, those of Ralph Hedley (1848-1913) and Messrs Robson & Sons, in the late 1880s. This unusual arrangement may have been because Hedley's workshop was busily engaged on the large task of furnishing the choir of St Nicholas Cathedral, Newcastle; it is likely that he was used to "set the aesthetic tone for the joinery" (Moat 114) here rather than supplying all the more pedestrian woodwork. The upper part of the pulpit, resting on "rouge jasper pillars on an alabaster base" (church website), is certainly on record as his work. Its details were probably devised by him too: Neil Moat writes: "Hedley's work was valued for its distinctive hand-carved finish, and the workshop was often allowed some considerable latitude in the treatment of details" (103, 112).

Left: Pews at the back of the nave. Right: The south choir screen, in front of the organ.

Hedley's ledger also refers to poppy-heads and panelling, probably for the "front and rear pews of the nave" (Moat 112). The two chancel choir screens which have inset "gilded roundels in gesso relief" (Moat 130) are his too. The roundels are signed by Heywood Sumner, though perhaps they were devised by the church's architect, T. R. Spence himself (Moat 130).

Carved design on interior door panels.

This was exactly the sort of "aestheticising" for which Hedley is likely to have been commissioned. The intricate woodcarving, with flowing and curving lines similar to those found in the mosaics, contributes to making the interior of the church "an inspiring setting for ritual" (Pevsner et al. 509).

Photographs and text by by Jacqueline Banerjee. You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one. [Click on the images for larger pictures.]

Related Material


Moat, Neil. A Theatre for the Soul: St George's Church, Jesmond: The Building and Cultural Reception of a late-Victorian Church. Newcastle University: Doctoral thesis, 2011. Web. 15 October 2015.

Pevsner, Nikolaus, and Ian Richmond. The Buildings of England: Northumberland. 2nd ed., rev. John Grundy et al. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002.

"Pulpit." St. George's Church website. Web. 15 October 2015.

Created 15 October 2015