Salisbury's Glorious Font

The above pic is one that I took on my recent trip to England.

Whilst I was in Salisbury to preach, I saw this wonderful new font which has just been installed in the middle of the nave.

It is dark and mysterious. Large enough to drown someone in. The dark interior makes the surface of the water reflect all that is around it. The water seems still and calm, yet is actually moving all the time, running over the edge of the corners.
Two things interested me particularly about it. The first was the propensity of people to throw money into it, proving that there are spiritual things deep inside us that refuse to die, no matter how much we try to baptise it out of people through no matter how many centuries.

The second thing was the consecration crosses. They got Archbishop Rowan to consecrate the font using holy oil. Only thing was, no-one worked out in advance that it would not be a trivial matter to wipe them off. And thus they remain. Ghostly and Holy. The whole thing is magnificent. One of the most successful modern commissions I’ve seen.


  1. Kennedy says


  2. When I was there four years ago, the previous font was still there. It is good to see the same principle of the water coming out of the corners and flat surface were retained. See the previous font at

  3. David |Dah • veed| says

    Stewart, was not the previous one a preview of this final commission, to elicit opinions from the congregation, as well as to give them a feel for what they would be living with permanently?

  4. Roddy says

    The word I’d use for it, other than beautiful, is compelling. Even in the photos you are drawn to it.

    I note the outside is sea green. Is the interior the same colour – again from the photos I’d say it was black.

    Are you getting ideas for sunny St Mary’s?

  5. A few years ago there was an art installation at St Mary’s which consisted of a large pool of water, lined in black. It reflected the stained glass windows and was interesting in all lights but absolutely beautiful, and yes compelling, in sunlight. Of course one small child tried to jump across and fell in!

  6. gaelle says

    Aha ! Stewart – you have solved the mystery of my consternation arising from not recognising the current font in Salisbury – and Roddy, I agree – Utterly Compelling.

    A most excellent photograph, Fr Provost – Thank You.

    PS. Anne, the Water Jump in S Mary’s certainly aroused comment, caused consternation when it leaked and – yes – inspired Memorable Moments (recalling among these the atmospheric effects of floating candles, and the dust which demonstrated the phenomenon of surface tension so superbly). ‘Foot Washing’ escaped from the Maundy Thursday Liturgy for a space.
    (I guess there’ll be a relevant photographic representation lurking in the capacious cupboard of Somewhere which will yet emerge ……… )

  7. Kelvin says

    I’d like to see a pic of the pond, if anyone has one.

  8. Martin Ritchie says

    Wonderful – thanks for sharing this!

  9. Kennedy says

    You can see more of this chap’s work at


  10. shona says

    beautifully iconoclastic – the edifice of the church is turned upside down in the waters of baptism….


  1. […] by Kirstin on 17 May, 2009 After Kelvin posted the glorious font at Salisbury – which was actually covered up for some reason when we visited – I decided that I […]

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