What Sarah described as a “Lombardic” idiom could be at once northern and southern, regional and European, and it would honour the purity of the early Church. But it is the idiosyncratic decorative scheme of the church, rather than its structural style, that makes her design so extraordinary. Sarah’s wide reading in Romantic literature had led her to see patterns of spiritual significance in nature, and she was attracted to the myths and cults that had revered natural rhythms of birth and death long before the advent of Christianity. Her church is steeped in a history that is not confined to the traditions of Anglicanism. Lotus flowers represent light and creation, while the pomegranate symbolizes regeneration. The pulpit was made from bog oak, thousands of years old; it was carved to resemble a fossilized tree, tracing a form of growth far older than the Church. The pine cone, which gives Uglow the title of her book, is to be found everywhere, as a recurrent emblem of eternal life. Like so much that caught Sarah’s imagination, it was both local and universal. The pine cone was a familiar object in the woods she owned, but it was also a symbol common to the Romans and Egyptians, and even to the Masons, who often used it to signify renewal in their ornate halls. It embodied the mysterious multiplicity of meaning that she valued most.
more from Dinah Birch at the TLS here.