Edward Raymond Payne, Stained Glass Artist, 1906-1991
Edward Raymond Payne, the renowned stained glass artist, spent most of his working life in Box living in the house known as the ‘Triangle’.
He was born in 1906 in Birmingham. His father Henry, a teacher at the Municipal School of Art in Birmingham, married Edith Gere in 1901. They were both members of the Birmingham Group of artists and had close links with the Arts & Crafts Movement. In 1909 they moved to Amberley in Gloucestershire. They settled in the old schoolhouse (‘St. Loe’s’ now renamed ‘Seynckley House’) which his friend, Sydney Barnsley of Sapperton, had restored. Henry followed a successful career as a stained glass artist and mural painter (for example at Madresfield Court near Malvern and the Palace of Westminster). The whole family was involved in the running of the studio and it provided a happy and fulfilling childhood environment. Edward’s mother, Edith, was also a gifted botanical artist and a major exhibition of her work was held at the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in 1979.
In 1913 Edward went to Junior House, Cheltenham College and subsequently to St George’s School, Harpenden. He was sent in 1923 to The Royal College of Art but after two and a half years he returned home to help in the family studio. He subsequently returned to college again for a year in the company of his brother. He was able to get a wide grounding in etching, drawing and painting which he clearly enjoyed. Immediately after college he spent six months at the William Morris factory at Merton to train as a manager but he decided that this was not where his talents lay.
Woodgreen Village Hall in Hampshire was built during 1930-31. In 1932 Edward Payne and Robert Baker a fellow student from the Royal College of Art were commissioned, by the Carnegie Trust, to decorate the walls entirely with murals. They painted the village as it was then with local scenes. The BBC, in a broadcast in 1973 called it the ’Village on the Wall’. These murals are still in good order and can be visited by appointment.
There followed a period which he described as his ‘formatory years’ spent in the homes of ‘well to do’ patrons doing wall paintings and decoration. These included the homes of the then Minister of Education Oliver Stanley & his wife Lady Maureen. At this time he became engaged to Molly Sailby and married her in 1937. He describes how the effects of impending marriage and perhaps a religious conviction indicated that he should abandon his wall paintings and move on as a dedicated stained glass artist.
He returned again to Amberley to help his father who was ready to pass on commissions. The first of these was ‘the baptism of St John the Baptist’ for France Lynch Church.
In 1938 his father became severely ill and Edward with his new wife Molly moved close to St. Loe’s. Sadly his father died in 1940 and the last thing that Edward did with his father was a tapestry design for a private house in Worcestershire. He was called up at the end of that year and served in 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards. He seemed to have had a happy time and in his spare moments drew portraits of the men and scenes of Army life. He was not an official war artist but several of his paintings are in the Imperial War Museum and over 40 are in the Regimental museum of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards in York.
His war experiences gave him a feeling for the ‘common man’ which was to influence his life and work thereafter.
After the War he returned to set up home in the ‘Triangle’. The house was built in the late 1930s and the distinctive large windowed studio was added at the end of the war. The view from the house which overlooks the village is featured in an early watercolour.
From 1952 he taught life drawing at the Stroud Art School and was later given charge of the windows in Gloucester Cathedral, where he did all the repair work from the sixties onwards.