Turning the font

18 August 2009

by Margaret Duggan

THE CHURCH of St John, Upper Studley, in Salisbury diocese, has a long tradition of furnishings made by local craftspeople, including the altar and a suspended cross made by the students and staff at Trowbridge College.

When the Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Selina Deacon (left), saw the woodturner, John Aitken (centre), making spinning tops for children at the Studley Green Fun Day last year, it gave her an idea. She asked him what was the maximum size wood he could turn on his lathe. She was already thinking about a possible new font for St John’s, to replace one removed 30 years ago when the church was reorganised.

Mr Aitken, who used to sing in St John’s as a boy, was immediately interested. After he had revisited the church, he suggested a font made from light oak to match the other furnishings that used the latest technology for the construction.

With the help of a friend, he was able to modify his lathe to handle wood more than two feet in diameter. The outcome was this splendid font. Mr Aitken also took up carving, in order to inscribe the verse from St John’s Gospel around the base: “The water I give will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The project was enthusiastically supported by the PCC, and many friends of St John’s helped meet the costs. The font has now been dedicated by the Archdeacon of Wiltshire, the Ven. John Wraw (above, right), who also baptised the first two candidates in the new font, and blessed crosses made from the offcuts of the oak. Mr Aitken had also made two small chalices that he gave to the candidates as mementoes of their baptism.

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