LETTERS: Lay and clerical discord over Pugin window

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The Independent Online
From Dr Thomas Cocke

Sir: I can understand James Fenton's stout defence of the Pugin west window at Sherborne Abbey in his article on 24 July ("Old, faded - but no, vicar, not thrown away"). However, I cannot see how he can turn the failure of his viewpoint to win approval at the consistory court into a resounding attack on the system itself.

The Council for the Care of Churches, the central committee of the Church of England on such matters, had come round to share Mr Fenton's preference for the Pugin window and gave evidence to that effect at the consistory court. We lost, but only after we had the opportunity to put our views in open court and be cross-examined on them.

The Sherborne case opens up an interesting debate between the conservation of past glories and the encouragement of new art and iconography, a debate which is dismissed in a few words. Mr Fenton also dismisses the views of the parish as without significance and seems to prefer some "national control" that will impose its will and presumably Mr Fenton's views on owners without right of redress. Many people might prefer the consistory court as a fairer alternative.

Yours faithfully,

Thomas Cocke


Council for the Care of Churches

London, SW1

27 July