ISSUE 16, January 2006
Historic: Sherlock Holmes incarnate
Travel: In the Footsteps of the Incas
Sport: Batting for England
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Supreme Grand Chapter: First Grand Principal's speech and Committee of General Purposes
Royal Masonic Girls' School: Stories in windows
Specialist Lodges: Brotherhood of the Angle
    Napoleonic Wars: A Mason's Word
International: Macedonia: New Grand Lodge consecrated and Enthusiasm unbound
Grand Lodge: Development of Freemasons' Hall
Masonic Rebels: Rise and fall
Bristol Museum: A Phoenix from the Ashes
Freemasonry and Religion: United in diversity
Library and Museum: Most glorious of them all
First Aid: Masons learn to shock
Education: The Third Degree and Forthcoming events
Masonic Charities, Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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While Frampton was Clapham’s artist, at Rickmansworth two quite different painters were responsible for the decoration of those areas used by the whole school – the Chapel, Assembly Hall and Dining Room. They were Louis John Ginnett (1875-1946) and Charles Knight (1901-1990).
    Ginnett, the senior figure, was the dominant partner in the project. He grew up in his father’s Sussex circus. After a brief attempt, like Frampton, to study law he became an artist and taught students. Before his work at the RMS, Ginnett had decorated the hall at Brighton, Hove and Sussex Grammar School (now Hove and Sussex Sixth Form College). He taught at the Brighton School of Art until his death.
    In the RMS Assembly Hall he designed and painted the 16 blue-on-red plaques or medallions, four depicting the elements and the others the 12 months of the year, symbolised as people. Ginnett’s work dominates the Chapel and demonstrates his talent for painting and for stained glass.
    Ginnett painted the four striking frescoes illustrating The Sermon on the Mount, The Gathering of the Children, The Adoration of the Magi and The Ascension. He also painted the four, long stained glass windows displaying appropriately female saints and the 36 artlessly charming small stained glass windows depicting child angels playing a variety of musical instruments.
    Knight was a distinguished artist. In 1940 he was recruited for Kenneth Clark’s Recording Britain project, an ambitious scheme set up at the outbreak of World War II. The aim was to record buildings and views before the war and development obliterated them, and to boost national morale by celebrating the country’s natural beauty and architectural richness. In later years he exhibited regularly at the Royal Academy and there is a large collection of his paintings in the V&A and British Museums, as well as in Brighton.
    Given the sheer artistic work undertaken by Ginnett at Rickmansworth, it is no surprise that the last lock of paint had not dried when the school opened for the first time in the spring of 1934 – the first stage of the building had begun in December 1929.
    Charles Knight, like Ginnett and John Denman, the school architect, was a Sussex man. As a youngster he was employed by Denman’s firm and it was presumably this connection with Denman – and no doubt a Masonic tie as well – that helped him get the Masonic job at Rickmansworth.
    Among his work at Rickmansworth, Knight painted the 16 square plaques in the dining hall, each representing an animal or plant from which food is derived. Between them these two artists gave the three public spaces of the school their unique decorative character.

The West window

A window depicting Horatius

This article is part of a feature which first appeared in Masonica, the magazine of the Old Masonic Girls’ Association, in 2003

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