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Harvey Pridham's Survey of Somerset Church Fonts



T
HE SOMERSET ARCHAEOLOGICAL AND NATURAL HISTORY SOCIETY
are pleased to announce an opportunity to purchase yet another landmark volume for the history of Somerset. Harvey Pridhams Survey of Somerset Church Fonts has been edited by Adrian Webb, with a foreword by Julian Orbach, and includes descriptions and line drawings made by Pridham of Somersets ancient church fonts. Between 1886 and 1907 Pridham drew 374 measured line drawings and 49 perspective drawings of Somersets pre-Victorian fonts, as well as recording fonts he found outside churches. The volume contains over 220 pages and 400 illustrations, with an introduction and index. 

From the The Journal of the Church Monuments Society 2014; pages 166-167
Although it is not immediately apparent from the title, this is not a modern survey of Somerset fonts, the core of the book being based on a typescript in the Somerset Societys library collection compiled by Harvey Pridham between 1886 and 1899, but with some later additions of newly recorded material. This volume is the latest in the Societys valuable publications of antiquarian sources. As the introduction by Adrian Webb explains, Pridham was concerned at the frequent occurrence of damage, or total destruction of, church fonts by well-meaning Victorians and their Gothic revival (p. ix). His concern was justified as eighty-five out of 481 pre-Gothic revival fonts had been lost in the county (although he noted for comparison that in Berkshire fifty-six out of 120 were missing). He found twenty discarded fonts, including a Saxon example from West Camel church acting as an ornament in a garden. As a result of this survey at least twelve were subsequently re-instated within churches.
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This volume is well produced and very competitively priced. It brings credit to the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society and is well worth buying.
The full peer review can be read in the Societys journal that can be obtained at
http://www.churchmonumentssociety.org/index.html
 
Code: SSCF
Price: £20.00

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5 product stars
Somerset's Ancient Church Fonts - Adrian Webb - 31/03/2013
Somerset s Ancient Church Fonts In the 1880s a young man in his 20s, a product of the Victorian era, son of the vicar of West Harptree, set out on a modern-day crusade. His quest was to record all of the ancient church fonts in Somerset before they were lost to the ravages of over-zealous Victorian architects, builders and clergy. That young man was William Harvey Pridham. Pridham witnessed the affect the late architectural blight known as the Gothic Revival had on Somerset s churches, and the ravages of the Victorian s enthusiasm to do away with the old to make way for the new. Many churches had been thoroughly modernised and dozens of ancient church fonts had been replaced by new less attractive versions. Fortunately in Somerset, Pridham found that only 85 out of the 481 ancient parish churches had lost their old fonts, whereas counties such as Berkshire had lost over 50 per-cent. Pridham set about measuring, describing and recording as much detail as he could for every ancient font in the county of Somerset that he could find. These medieval treasures were often the only survivors of the Gothic Revival, and one of the first he drew was in St Mark s church, Bristol. He visited every church and chapel in the county on his bicycle, at a time when they were nearly always open, enabling him to undertake his monumental task. He had an excellent eye for detail, as well as being able to execute perspective drawings of numerous fonts, such as those at Shepton Mallet, Edin

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