Other Works of Art

On the south wall near to the door to the parish center is an icon. It depicts St. Gregory on the Papal Throne, with to his right a portrayal of his meeting the English slaves in the marketplace, and to his left, of Augustine and his monks crossing the English Channel. This icon commemorates the Consecration of the church in 2004. It is the work of  Sister Esther from the Benedictine Abbey at Turvey. Further along this wall, above the confessionals, is a fine copy of Rubens’s “Descent from the Cross” by George Markie and donated in his memory in 2001. At the west end of the church, above the door to the Parish Office, is a painting of The Nativity by well-known local artist Chris Fiddes. It is typical of the early work of the artist, with a symbolic contrast of the dark stable and the illuminated Christ Child. It was originally given to St. Mary’s School in Grange Road, where for several years he taught Art, and it came to St. Gregory’s after the closure of the school. On the wall in the Northwest corner is a picture depicting Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, to whom the novenas had been said to expedite the building of the church. Lastly, on a pillar in the north aisle is another icon, the work of our late Deacon, Reverend Robin Cooper.

One important addition is the statue of St. Gregory on the front of the church. The niche and plinth had remained empty after the building of the church, but in 1959 Michael Royde Smith undertook to carve a statue of our patron. The photograph (below left), showing him at work, was taken in the stone yard of White & Joyce, and by coincidence the stone yard then stood on the corner of Whitworth Road where, as we have seen, Bishop Riddell had planned to build a church for the east side of the town some sixty years before. Michael carved the statue using Flasham stone from the Lincolnshire quarry north of Corby. It is quite possible that going in and out of the church, some of us may miss noticing the dove on St. Gregory’s shoulder, which Michael carved in the representation of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has certainly been known to mystify passengers on the top of the double-decker bus, which used to stop nearby. “Is it a real bird up there?” Beneath the statue, Michael left for later generations coins commemorating the date of its erection.