Books: The Next Best Thing : Part II

Yesterday was such a fun day spent talking about Books: The Next Best Thing and becoming immersed in the works of the Ecclesiastical Giants who designed and created many beautiful pieces of Ecclesiastical Vestments. Studying and reading about these designers and their works leads to new insights which helps us with our own Ecclesiastical Sewing Designs.

The Victoria and Albert Museum is hosting a seminar  next weekend on the Giants of the Gothic Revival: From Pugin to Comper.
Since Pugin received a great deal of attention yesterday, today we should consider the works of Sir Ninian Comper. I have been wanting to learn more about the works of Comper, as he has had such an influence on design. So, another recent addition to the book shelves is this one entitled: Sir Ninian Comper by Anthony Symondson and Stephen Bucknall. After such a lengthy post, today’s will be much shorter as this is the only Ecclesiastical book about Sir Ninian Comper on the shelf.

Book entitled Sir Ninian Comper
Book entitled Sir Ninian Comper

While Augustus Welby Pugin was the first of the greats when it comes to Ecclesiastical works, Sir Ninian Comper may be said to be the last of an era. Born in 1864, he lived to be almost 100 years old, dying in 1960.  Since this book only arrived on Saturday, I have not had a chance to do much more that scratch the surface of this volume. Reading through the author’s forward, what was immediately noteworthy was Comper’s ultimate objective: to bring man to worship God through beauty.  He believed that ‘the church of intrinsic beauty speaks today to many a cultured mind of youth and age; to win such minds by beauty of architecture and music may not be everything, yet it is by way of beauty that all are won. And it is by way of mediocrity in beauty and goodness and by half-truths that men are turned away.’

A quote by Comper himself sums up his work:

“A man should, from his youth, seek for forms which are beautiful. At first he should love but one of them; then recognize the beauty which resides in one as the sister of that which dwells in another.”

The introduction to the book, Sir Ninian Comper, confirms that Comper sought beauty as a lifelong quest.

Designs for Altars
Designs for Altars

The book has many photos and illustrations, all black and white, of things of beauty. The photos take us back in time to when the items were created or installed. There are many photos of altars, and while difficult to see the specific details, on several of the photos, one can see enough to get the general idea of how the altar frontals looked in their settings of beauty.

Gothic Vestments for High Mass
Gothic Vestments for High Mass

The above photo of vestments are pictured to give the impression of what the set was like when in use. Comper was noted for designing this fabric himself.

Cope and Morse
Cope and Morse


Designed from a Russian Cloth of Gold, this is stunning Cope with detailed Ecclesiastical embroidery, along with a Morse clasp. Looking at the Morse design makes one think how lovely it might be if reinterpreted into a piece of goldwork embroidery. It is a thing of beauty, even in a black and white photo.

For those wishing to see some of Sir Ninian Compers beautiful Ecclesiastical Embroidery work, there are  photos of several Great Banners designed by Comper posted at The New Liturgical Movement.

Augustus Pugin and Sir Ninian Comper are the Alpha and Omega to of Ecclesiastical Design. The works of both men have given us more beauty than the eye can behold if we only look for it.

Solo Dei Gloria

Be sure to visit our online store front Ecclesiastical Sewing where you may shop for Liturgical Fabrics, altar linen fabrics, church vestment making patterns, liturgical machine embroidery designschurch vestment trims and notions and so much more. You may also find us on  Ecclesiastical Sewing  on Facebook , Twitter, and Pinterest. Sing up for our mailing list  at the bottom of the page on our online store front and receive a free copy of our Small Linens Booklet as our way of saying thank you for following along.







Filed under: Ecclesiastical Embroidery, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Ecclesiastical Vestments Tagged: altar frontals, Augustus Pugin, Cope, Ecclesiastical Embroidery, Ecclesiastical Sewing, Ecclesiastical Sewining, Ecclesiastical Vestments, Giants of the Gothic Revival, Great Banners, Morse Clasp, Russian Cloth of Gold, Sir Ninian Comper, Victoria and Albert Museum


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