Hide and Seek

by Michael Ford last modified 12 Feb, 2019 03:43 PM

A tryptic that was removed from the east wall of a Dorset church and hidden over 20 years ago has been re-discovered during morning prayers.

Hide and Seek

Photo by Richard Hancock

‘A Vision of Our Lady’ by Martin Travers was removed from St Mary’s in Sixpenny Handley because of a damp problem and hidden behind the altar for safe keeping.

The Rural Field Officer for Dorset and Sixpenny Handley’s priest in charge, Revd Canon Richard Hancock said:
“I actually discovered the tryptic completely by chance. I say morning and evening prayer daily in church by the side altar dedicated to St Joseph. The altar has a yellow curtain behind it and on this particular morning as I was saying the office part of the curtain came away, revealing the face of Mary.

“After pulling the altar out and moving a whole load of clutter that churches collect I discovered the whole tryptic of the annunciation. I immediately recognised it as Martin Travers’ work as one of my previous churches had been completely decorated by him. I couldn’t believe it had been hidden behind the side altar, and set about finding out why and restoring it to its rightful place.”

Further research found out that Martin Travers was a famous church artist from the 1920s and, as no faculty had been given to remove it, following advice from the Archdeacon it has been put back.

A special service is planned for 24 March, the eve of the Annunciation, at which it will be rededicated.

Revd Hancock said the discovery means more than just restoring part of the church’s history:
“It is a poignant message for our little church of St Mary’s Sixpenny. The Angel Gabriel asks Mary to be part of God’s great plan of salvation to his people. It was a huge risk for her personally but she said YES, so it reminds us that we all need to move out of our comfort zones and take risks for the Kingdom here in Dorset.”

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