The Work of Sir Ninian Comper

A Lecture by Keith Lovell FHS

a detail from the Rood Screen in All Saints Church, St Ives

Sponsored by St Ives Civic Society
7.30pm Tuesday 7 May 2002

Sir John Ninian Comper

Sir John Ninian Comper was born in Aberdeen on 10 June 1864, the eldest of five children. His father, the Revd John Comper, rector of St John’s Episcopal Church, was one of the advanced priests in the Anglo-Catholic revival in Scotland.

Ninian began his career in 1882 becoming assistant to C E Kempe, the popular stained glass designer. He married Grace Bucknall in 1890 and had four sons and two daughters. Their eldest son followed his father’s footsteps, becoming an architect.

Ninian Comper was knighted by the king in 1950, and is recognised as one of the major church architects of the twentieth century, if not the greatest.

Comper’s work includes the use of pure white interiors, strong clear colours, especially Comper Rose and Green and the combination of gilding which can be seen throughout our church.

Sir Ninian Comper died on 22 December 1960. His ashes were buried beneath a window he designed in Westminster Abbey.

Rood Screen (1890)

The screen with its organ case and rood was a gift from the Revd A S Barnes, vicar 1891–4 and friends, in memory of his father, George Carnac Barnes.

The Figures (1897)

There are five pairs of figures of saints mounted on the pillars. The stone brackets on which they stand date from 1470.

The North Window (dedicated 1929)

the North Window, All Saints Church, St Ives

This window is in memory of members of the Watts family, and represents Our Lord with Sir Thomas More and St Alban.

The South Window (dedicated 1895)

This window is in memory of Dr W R Grove, and represents St William, with St Gregory and St Richard.


Highly polished brass laid over wood, in memory of the Revd Charles Dashwood Goldie, Vicar of St Ives, who died in 1886.

High Altar Reredos

The reredos was a gift from the Revd O W Wilde, vicar 1899–1931. It is the work of the Comper Company, as are other works in the church.

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