The Personal Archive of Louis Osman, Goldsmith and Architect

Date of Auction: 27th March 2018

Sold for £650

Estimate: £200 - £400

Louis Osman Archive: A selection of designs relating to ecclesiastical silver works, including designs for the Hollenden verge for Stoke Flemming Church (mounted), a cross for Ely cathedral, the Mantrap cross for Kings College, London, a High altar cross for Exeter cathedral, a chalice for Tavistock Church in Devon (mounted, plus further sketches unmounted), assorted drawings of the altar and designs for the new altar set and a painted hessian rough design of the Green altar frontal for St James Church, Shere, designs for a protective display case for the Stoneyhurst reliquary, a chalice for St Francis’ Church, Duston, and an altar cross and candlesticks for St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth, and photographic slides of some of these works. £200-400


The Hollenden verge was commissioned by Lady Hollenden, in memory of her late husband, as a gift to their parish church in Stoke Flemming, Devon, in 1979.

The Ely cathedral cross was made by Louis in collaboration with the artist Graham Sutherland, in 1964 The cross was later sold to art collectors Emery and Wendy Reves and is now on display in the Dallas Museum of Art. The photograph shows the two working on the design together on the ground at Sutherland’s Menton Villa.

The Mantrap cross was commissioned by Rev. Sydney Evans, dean of the chapel in Vincent Square used by theological students of Kings College London, in 1967; the cross has since been moved with the associated altar, which Louis also designed, to the South East corner of Kings College’s chapel in the Strand. Louis incorporated a working mantrap into the design of this cross to symbolise the evil which traps mankind in death, and from which Christ’s death redeemed.

The Exeter cathedral cross was commissioned by the House of Lords and subscribers in memory of Lord and Lady Fortescue, the late Lord Lieutenant of Devon and his wife, in 1963; it is currently adorns the altar of the Chapel of St Gabriel in Exeter Cathedral.

The Rev. Peter Hawker of Tavistock Church commissioned a chalice from Louis in memory of his grandmother; this was executed in 1967.

St James’s Church in Shere, Surrey was redesigned by Louis in collaboration with Geoffrey Clarke as part of its restoration during the 1960s. Louis designed and executed various pieces including processional cross, three altar frontals, altar rails, and an altar cross and candlesticks.

The Stoneyhurst reliquary contains a relic of the Crown of Thorns which was reputedly given to Mary Queen of Scots by her husband, the Dauphin of France, who had it mounted upon a pearl necklace; upon her execution it passed to the Earl of Northumberland, whose daughter had the necklace and thorn set in a gold mount inscribed with its history in Latin. This was bequeathed and passed through various monasteries before being presented to the Jesuit Stoneyhurst College in Lancashire in 1803. In 1963 Louis was commissioned to make an outer protective display case for this delicate relic.

In 1971 Louis designed an altar cross and candlesticks for St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth and in 1973 designed a chalice and paten for St Francis Church, Duston, Northamptonshire.

See: Louis Osman Gold Exhibition, Goldsmiths’ Hall, February 1971, cat no 3, 7, 8, 10 and 11.
See: Osman, An exhibition at Canons Ashby, May 1974, cat no 6, 17, 22, 27, 28, 29 and 32.