Blue plaque unveiled at Broomfield church commemorating Rosemary Rutherford

By Stuart Bowell 

The Rutherford Project, supported by the Heritage Fund, continues at the church of Broomfield St Mary and St Leonard.

On Saturday, November 11, 2023 a blue plaque commemorating Rosemary Rutherford was unveiled in the church by the Mayor of Chelmsford, Coun Linda Mascot.

A large number of people attended the ceremony and also heard a talk about Rosemary Rutherford’s work as a war artist. Tea, coffee, Prosecco and cake were served afterwards in the adjoining church hall.

The project evolved from much needed restoration work on the spire and tower, which are now waterproof  and woodpecker proof, to a major community-centred project focusing on Rosemary Rutherford’s work.

She was the daughter of the incumbent and during the Second World War, with the assistance of her brother, created a unique fresco  illustrating “Christ Stilling the Storm” in  the interior area at the base of the tower at Broomfield. 

In addition to the restoration of the fabric of the tower and spire, a collection of memorabilia and information about the artist is being exhibited in the church.  As well as the fresco the church already has a number of stained glass windows created by her including one in memory of her father, the Rev John Finlay Rutherford. 

With the building safe from water ingress the next phase of the work is the decoration of the interior space at the base of the tower followed by conservation work on the fresco. This area will be used at different times by campanologists, for private prayer or for viewing the fresco. 

This project has been made possible by the determination, care, love, skills and hard work of many people, together with generous advice and financial assistance from the Heritage Fund.

There have also been many donations from individuals and groups, including the Round Tower Churches Society. As a result a unique historic fresco will be the centrepiece for learning, artistic appreciation and wellbeing at Broomfield. 

Photograph of the unveiling on Saturday, November 11 by the Mayor of Chelmsford, Coun Linda Mascot by Stuart Bowell.