I am grateful to the parishioners of St Lawrence in Victorian times for building a new church when they outgrew the old one, and for saving the Old Church. I am also grateful to the vicar and parishioners in the early nineteen-seventies for launching a nation-wide appeal for money to install in the church some beautiful stained-glass windows by four famous Pre-Raphaelite artists, including William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. These windows were removed from the chapel at the near-by Royal National Hospital of Consumption and Diseases of the Chest when it was demolished. It stood for a hundred years on what is now the car park for the Ventnor Botanic Garden. HRH Elizabeth, the Queen Mother donated to the appeal and attended the dedication of the windows.
The church was designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, who also designed the Prince Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens in London, and was opened in the late eighteen-seventies. Instead of having bell ropes, its bells are rung mechanically and were installed to celebrate the Silver Jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary. Another unusual feature is the light box on one wall that displays more Pre-Raphaelite religious art. My favourite stained-glass window faces west and is exceptionally beautiful. It depicts angels, as well as physicians, administering to the sick. Hospital patients, many with tuberculosis, came to Ventnor from industrial towns and cities all over England to breathe clean air brought by the prevailing south-westerly winds along the Channel from the Bay of Biscay in the Atlantic.
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