▪ Nativity at St Mary’s

It’s always said that Margaret Agnes Rope worked solely for Catholic churches.  However this is not quite true.

In St Mary’s, the huge and ancient Anglican parish church right in the middle of Shrewsbury, there is a painted altar-front by her in the Lady (or Trinity) Chapel.

St Mary's altarfront - Nativity
St Mary’s altarfront – Nativity

This detail from the altar-front shows a Nativity scene, standing out in relief, and in a mock-medieval style which was popular then.  The colours are vivid and even startling.  It’s a lovely piece of work.
It shows that Margaret could paint, and paint very well – though of course it was glass she concentrated on in her career.

The models for the three children you see in the bottom right-hand corner of the photo are, it’s believed, from Margaret’s own extended family.  If that is true, it would be interesting to know who exactly they were.

Church of England

Why was it created by her for a Church of England building?  The fact is that Doctor Henry Rope, Margaret’s father, and Edward Burd, her grandfather, were prominent members of the congregation in St Mary’s and church wardens.
Marga herself would have worshipped here as a child until her conversion to Catholicism at the age of 19 (after her father had died).
It’s likely that those are the connections.

However, no one quite knows.  The piece must have been created after 1914 at least, as a First World War soldier is depicted on a panel at the other end of it (though the records of its installation cannot be found).

St Mary’s is now looked after by the Churches Conservation Trust; and is open every day except Sunday to visitors.  It is a most beautiful church, and really is worth an hour or two of your time.

4 thoughts on “▪ Nativity at St Mary’s

  1. To see examples of Anglican churches containing her work, check out St Peter’s in Blaxhall, Suffolk and Clifton Hampden, Oxfordshire as well as in Shrewsbury St Mary’s (the example here).



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