Interior of SS Peter and Paul, Little Saling, Essex

Interior of SS Peter and Paul, Little Saling, Essex

In 1940 the Ministry of Labour, in association with the Pilgrim Trust, established a project to commission artists to provide a record of the changing face of Britain. This remarkably ambitious scheme was known as 'Recording Britain'. The secretary of the Central Institute of Art and Design recommended in 1939 that 'artists should be appointed to make drawings, paintings and prints at the war fronts, in factories, workshops, shipyards and on the land, and of the changed life of the towns and villages, thus making a permanent record of life during the war which would be a memorial to the national effort, and of particular local value'. The impetus behind the project was the threat of extensive bomb damage throughout the Second World War, particularly in the cities but also in the countryside. This watercolour was commissioned for the 'Recording Britain' project. Kenneth Rowntree (1915-1997) painted views in several English and Welsh counties. In Essex (where he was then living), his contribution was a series of exteriors and interiors of local churches. He specialised in the art of watercolour, and demonstrates a freshness of colour and brushwork. This church at Little Saling, Essex, dates from the 14th century.