Blackheath, St Martin's church
History, tourist information, and nearby accommodation
HERITAGE HIGHLIGHTS: Ars and Crafts style wall paintings
At Blackheath he created a low-roofed structure modelled after an Italian wayside chapel, inspired by Byzantine and Romanesque buildings he had seen on his travels in Europe. Townsend studied under William Nesfield, was a member of the Art Workers Guild (a professional body of Arts and Crafts Movement artists, designers, and architects), and an expert in Italian mosaics. At Blackheath he designed an oblong hall with a low, barrel-vaulted ceiling. In accordance with Arts and Crafts ideals, local materials were used throughout. For example, the lectern and candleholders were made from local ironstone, smelted at the Royal Mint. The chancel walls and sanctuary arch are beautifully decorated alabaster, created by John Daymond and Son of London.
The Merritt Murals
Though these interior features are interesting, there is one overwhelming reason to visit Blackheath's church, and that is the series of striking wall paintings that illuminate both walls of the nave. These paintings were executed by Anna Lea Merritt (1844-1930), an American-born artist, over the years 1894-5. The story of how Merritt met Austin-Roberts is an interesting one; it seems that Sir William's wife served on the Women's Building Committee for the Chicago World Fair in 1893. Merritt exhibited a decorative mural at the fair, using a new process. Mrs Roberts-Austin realised that the new technique would be ideal for combating the damp environment of a church wall, and as a result, the commission to paint the interior of Blackheath's new church was offered to Merritt in 1893.
Address: Blackheath Lane, Blackheath, Surrey, England, GU4 8RA
Attraction Type: Historic Church
Location: In the centre of Blackheath village, 1 mile east of Wonersh, signposted from the crossroads. Parking along the verge.
Photo Credit: David Ross and Britain Express
NEARBY HISTORIC ATTRACTIONS
Heritage Rated from 1- 5 (low to exceptional) on historic interest
Shalford Mill - 2 miles (Historic Building)
Albury Church - 2.4 miles (Historic Church)
Guildford House Gallery - 2.9 miles (Museum)
Shere, St James Church - 2.9 miles (Historic Church)
Clandon Park - 3.2 miles (Historic House)
Loseley Park - 3.3 miles (Historic House)
West Clandon, St Peter and St Paul Church - 3.4 miles (Historic Church)
Dapdune Wharf - 3.4 miles (Historic Building)
Nearest Accommodation to Blackheath: