A story in black and white

Here is a view from the south transept of Carlisle Cathedral looking west into the south nave aisle showing the romanesque arches distorted by settlement in the 1120s*. It’s a meticulously detailed black and white pen and ink essay dated 1970.

The artist, a lovely, gentle man by name Reg Hunt, was a sidesman at the Cathedral and his son Richard and I were choral and in my case organ scholars in the 1960s. Living as I then did twenty miles from Carlisle, the Hunts had me to Sunday lunch week by week between the morning and afternoon choral services. Kindness and generosity of spirit were there in abundance in those heady days of musical exploration and soaking up Round the Horne before heading off for Evensong at 3.

Reg by then was Head of Art at White Close School in Brampton, about 10 miles away. I’d seen some of his work, and when I went to Cambridge in 1969 I asked him if he would be willing to do something for me as a memento of those times and of the Hunt family. I was overwhelmed with this – I was not expecting anything so spectacularly luxurious.

We have moved twelve times since then and this has moved with us – until recently. It’s still in the family, though, now having pride of place at Edward’s in Co Wexford.

I discovered that Reg had once courted a Carlisle woman, Margaret Grainger.  For whatever reason that didn’t work out and he married Margaret Henderson. Together they had John, a writer, and Richard. Margaret Grainger married my uncle Philip Monkhouse, later a tenor Lay Clerk at the Cathedral.

The Eden valley was a small world where rich red sandstone reigns, but Reg had seen more of the big world’s unpleasantness than most for he had been one of the liberators of Bergen-Belsen in 1945. 

* for more information see Dr James Cameron’s excellent and entertaining site: https://stainedglassattitudes.wordpress.com/2018/01/29/carlisle-the-unluckiest-cathedral/

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