The Baron, Lord John Manners, commissions this mural from Phoebe Traquair in All Saints Church in 1920.Traqair knows the context of the chapel that was built to commemorate the two Manners children who died, John and Molly (Mary Christine.) She also knows that Lord Manners employs her in the same year (1920) that his wife Constance has died, because he wishes to commemorate his wife in the church as well.
John Thomas Manners-Sutton (Lord of the Manor of Avon Tyrrell by 1909) and Constance Hamlyn-Fane (Lady of the Manor of Avon Tyrrell by 1909) had married in 1885 and had five children: [i]
Mary Christine, called Molly 1886-1904b.d. Feb.15, 1904)
Betty Constance 1889- 1962 (first born of the twins, inherited Clovelly)
Angela Margaret (twin) 1889-1970
John Neville 1892-1914b.d.
Francis Henry 1897-1972
[i]of and 2012s same they did, but on my own,have ,
Immemor (Avon of Constance never forgotten)
Betty's inscription reads: A.D.
(Translation from Latin: March 4, 1920 – date of Constance’s death ( literally:
Anno Domini (in the year of our Lord) or Ante Diem, 4th day before the nones of March; in 1920 the nones of March fell on the 8th day of the month, hence four days before the nones would be March 4, 1920).
The twins thus acknowledge their mother's death in writing on the banners they hold as they sing in the group as angels.
The mother, Lady Constance, is presented, according to Burn and Elkins, on the left wall between the figures of St. Peter and Tennyson; she is dressed in white and has short-cropped curly hair. She looks towards St. Peter who holds keys, but the keys are placed over her white gown as if to signify that she is the key to the mural's existence.
Directly in front of her and to the right of St. Peter's fish net is the Honorable John Manners, her son:
He is painted as a young pilgrim with staff and cockle-shell hat and sandals, and on his satchel is the white "maintenance cap" of the heir-apparent. He faces towards the Holy Family and holds onto his staff with both hands. Behin him the figure of St. John the Baptist (barefoot with cross staff) extends both arms toward John Manners to present his namesake to the holy family in the center as well as to God above as well as to the viewer of the mural.
One twin, the mother of the family, and the heir apparent son on one side of the mural; one twin, the father of the family, and the eldest daughter on the other side. Traquair deliberately sets up a symmetrical arrangement of the family members with the living heir, Francis, most honored in the center as the Christ child.
Lord Manners, the Baron, is presented to the right of the Holy Family, as St. George killing the Dragon. He is dressed in metal armor with a long spear that has struck the dragon in the head. Is this presentation Traquair's way of referring to Lord Manners' win on horseback? St. George here does not have his horse, but viewers might remember the steed on which George defeated the dragon.
The comical representation of the dragon's head with pink tongue sticking out and eyes askew is a way of presenting death that counteracts the serious real deaths alluded to elsewhere in the chapel.
The head of St. George resembles photograph portraits of Lord Manners:
Photograph of Lord Manners, courtesy Burn and Elkins, p. 92.Behind Lord John Manners and to his right on the wall is a choir singer in red gown and white chasuble holding an open choir book (to the page of the Te Deum?) This is the Manners daughter, Mary Christine, Molly, for whom the All Saints chapel was constructed.
Three family members on one side of the altar, three on the other side balance the composition symmetrically; and in the center is the baby, the youngest. But the whole family is painted in the mural as younger than they would have been or were in 1920. They are the ages they were in 1904, the year that Molly died. In that year Lord and Lady Manners were in their 40’s or 50’s, Mary Christine was
17-18, the twins were about 15, John about 12, and Francis was and is the baby, literally. The point of
portraying them at younger ages is that Phoebe wishes to capture a last moment when the
family was happy, alive, and all together.