Interior, Black Chapel, North End, near Dunmow, Essex

Interior, Black Chapel, North End, near Dunmow, Essex

Most of Kenneth Rowntree's Essex watercolours for the Recording Britain scheme depicted parish churches and chapels. His usual practice was to drive to them during the week and remain for two days or more, 'absolutely solitary', as he recalled. He represented the interior of the Black Chapel as an elating and intimate place, more closely resembling the Quaker meeting-houses in which he worshipped than an Anglican chapel. He claimed to have experienced an uncanny company here; the chapel was 'the most exiting place I'd been in, with a feeling of being with people', despite its emptiness. Similar thoughts were much on people's minds; the same year, when Nazi invasion of Britain was imminent, an article by Geoffrey Grigson in the July 1940 edition of the 'Architectural Review' cited Thomas Hardy's view of a church as 'a meeting place of the dead, the living and the unborn'.