News from the society
Early Gill Memorial rediscovered in Loughton
ERIC GILL MEMORIAL REDISCOVERED
A “lost” memorial carved by the famous sculptor and typographer, Eric Gill (1882-1940), has been rediscovered by chance by two members of the Loughton and District Historical Society (LDHS). In 1964, Eric Gill’s brother, Evan, produced an inventory of Eric’s work and it referred to a memorial to Johnnie Mann. No location was given for it, however, as presumably he did not know its whereabouts. Certainly the Eric Gill Society had no knowledge where this memorial was. They describe this find as a “significant discovery”.
The discovery was the result of a communication between one of the Society’s members, John Harrison from Loughton, and a friend, Jonathan Del Mar, son of the famous conductor Norman Del Mar and an eminent musician in his own right. John had asked Jonathan about his connections with the area as he had heard that his parents had been married in nearby Buckhurst Hill. In his reply Jonathan said, among other things, that there was a memorial to his uncle, Johnnie Mann, in the church of St John the Baptist, Buckhurst Hill by Eric Gill. John shared this information with another Society member, Lynn Haseldine-Jones who is an expert on the history of Buckhurst Hill. She was familiar with the memorial and had in the past asked the church who had made it, but they did not know. Thus, she realised that this was an important discovery.
Johnnie Mann was born on 16 May 1921 and sadly died on 28 November 1925 from osteomyelitis. The memorial shows him dropping a toy engine, symbolically leaving his it behind, and reaching up to heaven to take Jesus’ hand. The memorial is in the church’s Lady Chapel. Eric Gill was a friend of the Mann family – Pauline Mann, Johnnie’s sister, married Norman Del Mar.
LDHS – www.loughtonhistoricalsociety.org.uk
Eric Gill Society – www.ericgill.org.uk
St John the Baptist Church – www.sjbh.org.uk