This webpage has been created to show how a painting named 'The Village Christening' by painter John White
had its painting location identified.

The BBC have a website dedicated to ARTS & CULTURE

and from this is a link to

YOUR PAINTINGS which is produced in partnership with the PCF (Public Catalogue Foundation) - The PCF has digitised the UK's national collection of oil paintings. Their on-going work is to make art in public collections more accessible.

I came across a lovely painting by John White named 'The Village Christening' and instinctively knew that this painting was of our village church in Shere, Surrey. There wasn't a lot of information about this painting other than the date of painting (1880), size and medium (Oil on canvas) and is part of The Hepworth Wakefield Collection. What excited me was this:

A chance to help identify the location of where the painting was painted back in 1880, 132 years ago. The link took me to the ART DETECTIVE page with a form asking "to tell us what you know about this painting".



Initial id was the distinctive steps up to door and the same configuration of windows. I took my camera, walked around the corner
and tried as best as I could to place the lens in the same postion that John White placed his easel

The Village Christening - 1881

Tried to place the camera lens where John White placed his easel - 2013

The old oak tree has now come and gone - The distictive steps up to the door remain as does the tiled roofed entrance and stone wall.


This slighly raised elevation (but the same angle) shows the configuration of windows above and to the right of the tiled porch
which was shielded in the photo above.

Here is St.James' Church with the camera moved over to the right - 2013


SUMMARY: Painting and Photograph compared


As painted by John White in 1881

St. James' Church, Shere

Camera Lens in the same position
as John Whites easel

Painting and Photograph - Selectively Superimposed


Photo-retouching and current day photography by Tristan Greatrex


A year Earlier, in 1880, John White painted "A Village Wedding",
which adds weight to the fact the above painting is of the same location, the village of Shere


Outside St James' Church

Coment: No Lych Gate

St. James' Church, Shere - May 2013

Comment: The wall has been moved some 15 feet to the left - see photo below, taken in 1904 - The white gate is the entrance to SAYERS house

The Lych Gate was designed in 1902 by the architect, Edwin Lutyens, who later became
Sir Edwin Lutyens and designed the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London.



Description: Black and white glass plate negative of "St. James" Church, Shere, near Guildford, taken on 4th April 1904.
Exterior view including a Lych gate designed by Edwin Lutyens two years earlier WEBSITE | Other Photograph



John White (1851 – 1933)

Born on the 18th September 1851 in Edinburgh, John White was a painter of landscapes, seascapes, portraits and rustic genre subjects in oil and watercolour. His family emigrated to Australia in 1856 and he was educated in Melbourne. He returned to study at the Royal Scottish Academy schools from 1871 and won the Keith prize for design in 1875. Through the 1870s White’s landscape, portrait and genre subject paintings were exhibited at the Royal Academy and other London exhibition venues. He retired in 1931 and lived in Beer, Devon.

He died on the 21st December 1933.

His subjects are quite varied including landscapes, marine, genre and portraits, both in oil and watercolour.