Christmas was marked by a return to the Abbey Basilica of Saint Gregory the Great at Downside for Midnight Mass. The abbey church always has a splendid feeling at night. One of the best points at the wedding of the century was in the evening when, after a fair bit of dining and drinking, a whole slew of guests slipped into the church where the monks who a few hours previous had sung the nuptial mass were singing compline and joined in their prayers.
Doubtless you will recall last year’s Christmas diary documenting my holiday with Garabanda, Ming, und Familie. In the time since then, my own parents have very wisely moved onto the same landmass as I, and — even better — moved to nary a half-hour’s drive from Downside, so this Christmas was spent in blessed Georgian comfort with my own parents and all the delights of that particular patch of the West Country.
Sitting there waiting for midnight mass to begin, the Great East Window was shrouded in darkness, its colourful scheme hidden by the night. But I remembered that the blogger at Inscrutable Being, an art historian, devoted an entire blog post to the window, ‘Some Thoughts on Ninian Comper and the East Window of Downside Abbey’. According to the author, the window demonstrates Ninian Comper’s “concern for expressing good truth beautifully with careful unoriginality”. I’ve not yet seen a copy, but I will have to purchase Downside: An Architectural History. (I’ve added it to my Amazon wishlist at least). If the artist/architect is your area of interest, rather than the place, then Symondson & Bucknall’s Sir Ninian Comper is the place to start.