Sunday, November 21, 2010

Frederick Rolfe's Holywell Banners

I wasn't kidding when I said I had something exciting to announce on this blog this weekend.

We are genuinely excited to be able to annouce the publication of Frederick Rolfe's Holywell Banners by Robert Scoble. The book is published by CJB and printed and distributed by as a 40pp., full-colour sofcover book. This is the first time that all five of the surviving banners have been reproduced in print and the book also contains the first colour reproduction of Rolfe's painting of St George as well as of a pen and ink sketch by Rolfe done for his young assistant Leo.

Holywell in north Wales takes its name from the miraculous Well of St Winefride, which has attracted pilgrims to the town for many centuries. The Well was falling into a state of disrepair and neglect when in 1890 the Jesuits appointed a young and energetic new priest to the Holywell parish. Within a few years Fr Charles Beauclerk had given the shrine a new lease of life, with a particular emphasis on regular processions through the streets of Holywell and on to the Well itself. By 1895 he was feeling the need for new and more splendid processional banners, and when an impecunious artist happened to visit the town, Fr Beauclerk prevailed upon him to stay. The artist told Beauclerk that his name was Frederick Austin, but in reality he was Frederick Rolfe, soon to write the unusual books, some of them under his nom de plume ‘Baron Corvo,’ which were to bring him enduring literary fame. In return for his food and lodging, Rolfe produced some fourteen or fifteen banners, of which only five have survived, as striking and colourful examples of his na├»ve representational style. His time in Holywell did not end well, however, as he gradually became convinced that Fr Beauclerk was taking advantage of him. This book tells the story of Rolfe’s commission to paint the banners, and reproduces the banners themselves in full colour, together with a detailed description of their fascinating iconography.

You can order your copy of the book DIRECT FROM BLURB


J said...

Of course I will order the book, but I have to ask: where ARE the surviving banners?

Callum said...

Hi J,

Sorry, I should perhaps have made that a lot clearer. The surviving banners are in the Shrine Museum in Holywell.



J said...

I'm sure it's all explained in the book, but I did want to know whether they were in a private collection, or somewhere that ordinary folk could go see them...


J said...

I got my copy the other day. While I initially thought the price was a bit high for a 40-page paperback, I'm very glad I ordered it. It's nice to have a more detailed take on the incident, and the photos of the banners and the participants are terrific.

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