Oofy here: Editorial: ‘nough about me. Need a break. Writin’s hard – and here’s another question. Haven’t spotted the question mark. Must be somewhere. Give me a shout ‘f you come across it.
A gloss from the Type-Setter. With his customary perspicacity our editor has noticed that once started the professor will tend to continue the line of his research, whether or not any further question has been asked of him. He has now produced an account of the planting at Maker Church, Mount Edgcumbe. It stands on the highest ground with its distinctive tower and finials and was used as a sea-mark. The professor however has drawn attention to the treatment of churches in Reptonian landscape. He begins with Repton’s cautionary note: at Stoke Edith for example: ‘“It is not within any province to enquire, whether ye piety, supersition [sic], or ostentation of former times made it so common to place a large house very near the church; but it is a misfortune with respect to picturesque beauty, that I have too frequently occasion to regret; not so much on account of the church itself which may sometimes be rendered a pleasing object in the scene, but on account of those appendages which frequently accompany the church, and as is the case of the parsonage at Stoke, destroy that unity of character without which it is hardly possible to give dignity or even picturesque harmony of parts of the whole.” The point is repeated ten years later at Woodford: “The proximity of the … Church and Parsonage to the South, are objections, that can never be removed.” At Holkham he noted that “as the Tower of the Church contains a prospect-room, and as a dry walk is essential thither, I think a few evergreen trees planted round and amongst the graves wou’d give a proper Character to the place; and wou’d so far from being an objection from any part of the Park, the Church wou’d become, if possible a more pleasing object when we see its Tower “embosom’d high in Tufted Trees.””’
The Professor was however more taken with the planting of Beech trees around the church, which he has found at Great Barr, Hanworth and a dozen other places, but most particularly at Courteenhall, which he mentions for its proximity to Northampton – Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park was a similar distance from that county town. Repton’s plan for Courteenhall shows the church of St Peter & St Paul carefully and deliberately excluded from the parkland, being just outside the screen of woodland. However the screen of woodland is dominated by Horse-Chestnut save for the piece immediately in front of the church, which has beech. Hence the Professor has concluded that Repton wanted to use the lighter colours of the beech leaves to make the church seem further away – it’s a trick of aerial perspective, which is a subject often discussed by Repton – and the point is that the same thing happens with the Maker Church at Mount Edgcumbe – that’s to say, it has Beech planted around it.’ [Notes from the Professor, trans. the Type-Setter]
A gloss from the Type-Setter. Not in my opinion the Professor’s strongest argument for Repton’s involvement with Mount Edgcumbe, but it may find a role in supporting the claim. Readers might be warned that the Professor, like all Czechs, has an uneasy relationship with the church. They would love to find a form of Lutheran or Hus-like devotion that would reject all the trappings of Roman Catholicism without rejecting Catholicism itself. Torn between the quasi-Lutheran national hero (Jan Hus) and the Catholicism of the counter-Reformation successfully imposed on the Czechs after the Battle of the White Mountain, he like many of his countrymen has distanced himself from religion. While less inclined to error, the Anglican church is less inclined also to the baroque decoration so beloved of Bohemians. For that reason he has spurned it as well.