The righteous cry out; the Lord hears, and he rescues them from all their afflictions. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; He saves those whose spirit is crushed.
Psalm 33, verses 18-20
This bronze crucifix was already an object of private family devotion in the gardens of Gillingham Hall even before this church was consecrated in 1898, when it was placed externally on the east wall, looking over the graveyard and across to Gillingham Hall, the home of John George Kenyon (our Founder).
The crucifix hung on the church undisturbed for 112 years until 2010, when it suffered one of a wider spate of attacks which sadly damaged several local crucifixes. At first, we thought parts of our crucifix had been stolen, but the missing limbs were found gradually over the next five years; they had been dumped in the Shrubbery beside the graveyard, and hidden in the undergrowth.
The broken remains of the original crucifix were preserved as they were collected by the Valori family, and have now been reunited, restored and re-hung to create this new artwork for the church interior.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the work of the Lord; a marvel in our eyes.
A decision was taken to celebrate the brokenness of this body, as a symbol of the sufferings of those who have been traumatised by mental affliction or encountered severe adversity in life.
The wounds and breaks in the limbs, as well as the nails and the Crown of Thorns, have accordingly been polished to highlight those injuries, endowing the memory of pain with beauty.
The limbs and torso have been reassembled and restored to create a strengthened whole, but one in which dislocations and gaps are clearly visible and not hidden.
Dedicated to the Memory of Major Joseph Robert Kenyon, M.C. (9 April 1883 – 17 December 1971)
The crucifix has been restored to honour Joseph Robert Kenyon, the second son of John George Kenyon and Mary D’Arcy Kerr (and the sixth of their eight children). After graduating from Christ Church, Oxford with a B.A. in Modern History, Joseph gained the rank of Major in the service of the Royal Field Artillery. He fought in the First World War, and was mentioned in Despatches. He was decorated with the award of the Military Cross (M.C.) on 1 January 1918.
He returned from the war to resume his career as a barrister, but his shellshock was severe, and in 1920 he suffered a catastrophic mental breakdown whilst in court in Liverpool. He spent the rest of his life as a private patient at St Andrew’s Hospital, Northampton, a progressive and enlightened mental health establishment which is now the largest charitable mental health facility in the UK.
While many war memorials celebrate the Glorious Dead, our restoration of this crucifix is our own tribute to all those who survived the First World War, and the terrible price that many paid for that victory.
Artists & Artworks
Barry Edward Leith (born 1945) is a local artist living in the Waveney Valley, and teaches on the BA (Hons) Animation course at Norwich University of the Arts. Barry studied graphic design at Hornsey College of Art, then took a post-graduate course in film and photography. His celebrated animation and illustration work includes The Wombles and Paddington Bear.
The crucifix itself is early Victorian, Italian, and of very high quality. It was created by the “lost wax” method, which included sculpting a clay figure, which was then fired and eventually skilfully clothed in a bronze which is a mixture of copper and lead.
The restored crucifix was re-hung in time for the centenary of the commencement of the Battle of the Somme (1st July 1916).
Prayer for the broken
Loving God, You are always near to us, especially when we are weak, suffering and vulnerable. Reach out to those who are broken by life. Lift their burdens, calm their anxieties, and quiet their fears. Surround them with your healing presence that they may know that they are not alone. Bring them the strength of a thousand angels in their struggle. We ask this through the intercession of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, and in the name of Your Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.
Psalm 22, verses 1-4
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me still.
St Dymphna (7th century AD) is the patron saint of all those suffering from nervous disorders and mental illness. Her feast day is 15th May.