A new font carved for Exeter Cathedral by the Works team in Salisbury was handed over by Gary Price, Clerk of the Works and Canon Dr Robert Titley, Salisbury Cathedral’s Canon Treasurer on Monday, 1 February 2016.
The 26” font, which was handmade in Purbeck Blue Stone by Gary Price, took nearly a week to create. Cut from a single piece of stone worth £450 ‘in the rough’, there was little margin for error.
Said Gary Price, Clerk of the Works: “I have made bowls before but nothing on this scale. It was a challenge because I needed to make it absolutely smooth and avoid cutting steps down into the centre. It took a lot of polishing too. Our fingers were bleeding by the time we had finished.”
Robert Titley, Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral said: “The font contains baptismal water and baptism is the way young and old are first welcomed into the Church, so there is no more precious object we could produce for our friends and colleagues in Exeter than a font – it is a particular honour.”
At the request of Exeter Cathedral Gary designed the font to be ‘portable’, allowing it to be brought out as and when required by the Cathedral. Salisbury Cathedral Stonemason Alan Spittle engrave a symbol of the Holy Trinity at its centre.
The font was received by Exeter Cathedral’s Clerk of the Works, Chris Sampson and Canon Ian Morter, Canon Treasurer and Pastor. It will be consecrated at Easter and will be placed on a specially made wooden trestle, shaped to echo the Cathedral’s Gothic arches.
Said Chris Sampson, Exeter Cathedral Clerk of Works: “It has been great working on an inter-cathedral exercise and exchanging skills and expertise. I spent 16 years a working as a mason in Salisbury and knew Gary and his team had the experience and machinery to do the job. We wanted to use Purbeck stone to connect to the Purbeck columns in our Cathedral.”
Said Canon Ian Morter, Pastor and Canon Treasurer: “We have already installed the new altar, lecturn and credence table and this new font is the next step. We have a Cathedral font but it is tucked away and this new font will allow us to perform our baptisms in the sanctuary area at the heart of the Cathedral”
Exeter Cathedral and Salisbury Cathedral have both historic and modern connections: Chris Sampson, Exeter’s Clerk of the Works, spent 16 years as head mason at Salisbury Cathedral and the C15 Bishop Seth Ward was Dean and Bishop of Exeter before being translated to Bishop of Salisbury where he died in 1689. Bishop Seth Ward built the Matrons College in Salisbury Cathedral Close in the latter part of the 17th century for 'widows at least 50 years old, of good fame and reputation and prudent and religious behaviour'. The original building provided housing for 10 widows of clergymen in both the Salisbury and Exeter diocese.
Read Gary Price's latest blog here.