The Blackmore Vale May '21

Page 16


Harry Clarke’s depiction of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary - a portrait of Roma Spencer-Smith - with the Madonna and child in the centre. The child is an image of Roma & Drummond’s toddler son. On the right is a portrait of Harry Clarke’s own wife, representing Saint Barbara, the patron saint of artillerymen. Image: Rachael Rowe

Deco Artist’s Poignant Masterpiece Tells Tragic Tale of Loss in Stur The jewelled colours of St Elizabeth of Hungary sparkle in the late afternoon sunlight. Her flaming red hair and the sight of the Madonna flanked by two women in the stained glass window would have been a dramatic sight for the Sturminster Newton parishioners in 1921.

posted to New Zealand as Aide De Camp to the GovernorGeneral. It was in New Zealand that he met Roma Hope, a beautiful red-headed girl from Timaru on South Island. They became engaged, married in London in 1915 and moved to Sturminster Newton.

A century later, elements of the story behind this rare Art Deco memorial window resonate with the current pandemic and the sacrifice made by people across the world.

The couple had been married just three years, of which Drummond spent most of the time serving in World War One. Roma left an elevenmonth-old son.

The Spencer Smith family lived in Sturminster Newton. Drummond Cospatric Spencer-Smith was an officer in the Royal Artillery,


During the First World War, Roma worked as a nurse at St Thomas Hospital in London. Tragically, she died on 12 November 1918 during the flu pandemic, aged 28, and the day after the armistice.

by Rachael Rowe A devastated Sir Drummond Spencer-Smith commissioned a memorial stained glass window for Sturminster Newton.

Harry Clarke was an awardwinning stained glass artist and book illustrator from Ireland and a strict catholic. He had studied in Chartres, and the rich colours used in his work are a result of the influence the cathedral windows had on him. His work was considered bizarre by many but was strongly influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement.

We don’t know why Harry Clarke accepted the commission for Sir Drummond Spencer Smith. Was it a shared sense of compassion for the prolific global loss in the 1918 Flu Pandemic? Always free - subscribe here

Articles from The Blackmore Vale May '21

3 min read

Brigit Strawbridge