1957/12 St. Bride
8 feet high statue for St. Bride's Church Fleet Street, London [see also 1957/11]
Plaster (it was originally intended that the statues would be subsequently carved in wood but this was never carried out, probably through lack of funds).
This statue, and that of St Paul, was part of the reconstruction of the Wren church under Architect W Godfrey Allen (see 1959/2), a successor to Wren as Surveyor to the fabric of St Paul's Cathedral, following St. Bride's destruction by German bombing on the night of 29th December 1940. The church was rededicated in the presence of the Queen and Prince Philip on December 19th 1957.
The two full-size statues were modelled by McFall in the period September – December 1957 first in clay and then cast into plaster. He finally completed them on 9th December just 10 days before the opening ceremony and he records in his diary that he was a ‘nervous wreck’.
St Bridgit of Kildare: Sometime in the sixth century the first known stone church on the site was dedicated to St Bridgit or St Bride of Kildare. Born in 453, shortly after St Patrick, she was the daughter of an Irish prince and a druidic slave. Bride gave away so many of her father's possessions that he eventually let follow her calling and enter the religious life. She settled with seven other nuns and founded a convent in Kildare. The convent developed into a centre of learning and spirituality, famed for its illuminated manuscripts. The most famous of which, the Book of Kildare, was one of the finest of all illuminated Irish manuscripts which was, tragically, lost over 300 years ago.
1) "Phoenix of Fleet Street"; Country Life 9/1/58 "... a difficult problem ... arises again when one turns to Mr McFall's compelling figures of St Bride and St Paul. Are they in scale and in spirit appropriate where they have been placed, above woodwork which so meticulously and miraculously reproduces the craftmanship of Wren's age It might have been a happier solution to have set them on pedestals flanking the tower arch, where they would have had an equally dramatic effect and the psychological conflict would not arise so acutely. It should be added that the present figures are the plaster models of those to be carved in wood."
2) The Times 18/9/57.
3) "... McFall, 37, has five months to complete the work that would normally take an artist a year ... he told me that he has been given £1,750 for the work. "The next stage of the commission, when sufficient funds have been raised, is to execute the figures in limewood". It was a material much used by Wren..."
David McFall (sculpture), Alfred Banks (drawings) Glyn Jones (artist)
W. Godfrey Allen (architect) inspect progress
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