The master draftsman James Kellaway Colling was born on 1 January 1816, and died at the age of 89 on 1 September 1905. From 1832 he trained as an architect in the London office of Matthew Habershon. Between 1836 and 1840 he moved to Norwich to work under firstly John Brown and then, John Colson. On his return to London in 1841, Colling worked for six months in the office of Sir George Gilbert Scott.
A fellow pupil and close friend at both Habershon’s and Brown’s practices was Ewan Christian. In the preface to the second volume of Details of Gothic Architecture, Colling thanks Christian (plus his nephew Mr JH Christian, and Mr CH Purday) for their assistance in providing “several Drawings of parts of St Mary’s Church, Beverley”. And so we do not know which of the 17 drawings of St Mary’s that appear in Details are by Colling and which are by his talented friends.
Colling in turn supported Christian on a number of projects: he provided some of the drawings for Christian’s only book Illustrations of Skelton Church, Yorkshire published in 1846 (when the two men were in their thirties); and he provided foliage designs for the interior decoration of Christian’s National Portrait Gallery of 1895 (when the old friends were in their eighties).
We hope you enjoy these exquisite drawings of our beautiful church from Colling’s Details of Gothic Architecture, the full title of which is ‘Details of Gothic Architecture, Measured and Drawn from existing Examples’.
There’s only a little bit of Norman architecture left in St Mary’s and so the church doesn’t feature as one of JK Colling’s examples of that style. But in the nearby village of Etton is another church dedicated to St Mary which posses some extraordinary Romanesque features, captured vividly by Colling. Behold its ‘Aztec’ door arch: