Stations of the Cross

The Stations of the Cross are a very fine set of carvings and are the work of Anthony Foster. Anthony Foster was a pupil to Eric Gill (1882-1940), one of the most colourful figures in early twentieth century Art—wood engraver, sculptor, typographer, draughtsman. Notably Gill did the sculptures for the Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral. Foster was regarded as his most able assistant, and he worked with Gill on some of his major projects. His work followed in the same artistic tradition. An impressive workpiece by Foster is the Crucifixion on the front of Guildford Cathedral, designed by Gill but carved in stone by Foster after Gill’s death. Our stations were not commissioned by St. Gregory’s, but were bought in 1957 already complete thanks to a kind and generous gift from Miss Margaret Reid, for many years a teacher at St. Mary’s on The Mounts. Father Phillips wished to set the carvings into the walls. Foster had died so he asked our parishioner, Michael Royde Smith, a sculptor and engraver, to make this easier by removing the numbers, which originally surmounted each station. He also asked him to make one or two minor alterations to the figures. Michael had himself worked in the Gill workshops at Piggot’s in Buckinghamshire, and he had known Anthony Foster and was able to ensure that the integrity of Foster’s carvings remained intact. As a postscript to Foster’s work in our church, it is worthy of note that his son, Stephen, in 1999 designed the striking triptych to the Holy Spirit in our Cathedral.