Tudeley, a tiny treasure in Kent

tudeley


120 kilometres south-east of London, Kent county is a home to a small village of Tudeley. In the village, surrounded by fields stands a church with stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. This is a unique place, the only one in the world where Chagall designed all the windows.

When, in 1963, Sara, Sir Henry and Lady d’Avigdor-Goldsmid’s daughter, died in an unfortunate sailing accident, parents wanting to commemorate their beloved child’s memory asked Chagall to design the eastern window of the church. However, when, four years later, Chagall came to attend the assembly of his stained glass work, he was so impressed with the final effect that he reportedly to said, “This looks wonderful. I will design other windows as well”. And he did.

This place is unique yet in one other aspect: all stained glass windows are at eye level – they can be approached and looked at closely, which in the case of Chagall’s stained glass is unusual, because all the other ones he created, were installed high (like most stained glass).

The stained glass on the eastern wall (above the altar) commemorating the death of Sarah and her 21-year-old friend symbolizes death and resurrection. The lower part depicts a dead girl floating on water and mournful figures looking in her direction. On the right hand side, you can see Somerhill, d’Avigdor-Goldsmid family’s estate. In the upper part one can see a red horse, according to Chagall, a symbol of joy. The horse is taking Sarah to the Christ on the cross surrounded by the angels. The side windows of the altar depict a red angel with a bird flying over its head (on the left) and the seascape with a sunset and a four-leaf clover above it (on the right). The other windows show the scenes of creation, life and death, joy and hope, where all colours and animals characteristic to Chagall works are present, including donkey.

One of the stained-glass windows, with a pigeon with an olive branch, you can see a smiling face with one eye. Locals say it’s Marc Chagall.

You can also find a tomb of Kent’s sheriff: George Fane. Mr. Fane was a sheriff only twice (in 1557 and 1558), but he must have been a good cop as he was given a really nice place to rest his earthly bones.

200 kilometres from London, from the cliffs of Eastbourne, in good weather one can see France.

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