Jane Gray (b.1931)

Saling Hall, Essex, Floral Design for Stained Glass Window



11 x 20 cm

Saling Hall, in Essex, has a long and rich history, dating back to the early 12th century when Sir Baldwin Wiscart was the first recorded Lord of the Manor. After his his son, the house passed to the knightly family of Bibbesworth, who lived there for four generations. Sir Walter de Bibbesworth was a crusader and a poet (in French). Nothing remains of the first Saling Hall which was rebuilt around 1590 by the Maxey family who had bought the hall in 1487. The house faced further remodelling by its 17th century owner, Martin Carter, a lawyer. He ornamented the new facade with Dutch gables, which are the latest example of their kind in Essex, and the house has changed little since. The hall passed through many more hands before it was bought, in 1935, by Lady Isabella Carlyle (née Barton) who was a passionate gardener and gave the Hall its first modern gardens. Lady Carlyle sold the Hall in 1971 to Hugh Johnson, a well known garden writer, who continued Lady Carlyle’s work on the gardens. This watercolour sketch is an early design for a stained glass window commissioned by Johnson for a fanlight in Saling Hall. Johnson wished the design to include the plants he grew in his own garden to symbolise the seasons. Gray designed the panel using Corsican Hellebore for winter, the Crown Imperial Fritillary for spring, Dog Rose for summer (although, this was changed to Agapanthus in the final design), and Japanese Anemones for autumn. In the final window, Gray also included vines to frame the design and nod to Johnson’s oenological interests.

Provenance: the artist’s studio sale.

Literature: Jane Gray, Playing with Rainbows. (Shropshire: Ellingham Press, 2011), p.40.

Condition: very good.

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