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Charles Bernard Mortlock

5th May 2022

CB Mortlock knew the right people...

Ah C.B. Mortlock
not just Church of England priest but also
journalist and ballet critic for 
the Daily Telegraph. In forty-six,
the year of his appointment to St Vedast,
he was president of both the Critics'
Circle and the A.C.U., the Actor's 
Christian Union, and so a leading
figure in the arts. The Bishop, David
Wand, thought Mortlock might bring 'interesting
folk' and certainly his friends were artists.
Sculptor Jacob Epstein carved his profile 
and displayed it in the garden. Mortlock,
who said Judaism was 'a monstrous 
work of human ingenuity',
and that Jews were 'murderers of God'
urged Epstein to convert. He wouldn't. At
his passing, Mortlock asked his flock to pray 
for him as he'd 'died unbaptised'. And yet
he sermonised in nineteen forty-three
against the Nazi persecution of
the Jews which other gentiles still denied.
He had more luck with muralist Hans Feibusch
who adopted Christianity 
in Britain and was hired to decorate
the post-war C of E in gaudy hues. He flattered 
Mortlock by including him in what
may be his masterpiece - The Trinity 
in Glory at St Alban's Holborn. Sacred 
art goes pop. The style is nineteen sixties
born-again heroic, vibrant colours,
evangelical in tone, romantic
and idealised, the figures muscular
except in prison bottom right where they're
emaciated, glum. Charles Bernard Mortlock's
in the claret vestments, right cheek profile,
eight o' clock. In front of him is Peter Priest,
the vicar of St Alban's (nominal 
determinism there) from sixty-five
to sev'nty-nine. The well-connected Mortlock
knew Hans Feibusch from the art world and 
had recommended him to Walter Hussey at 
St Matthew's Northampton. The latter in 
exchange gave Mortlock Jacob Epstein who 
had sculpted a Madonna for him there. 
Rev Mortlock worked as treasurer with special
dispensation for religious art
for Chichester when Hussey was the Dean. 
The Daily Telegraph used Mortlock well. 
The Peterborough column he invented and 
he doubled as the architecture man
and special correspondent on the Middle 
East. He was the Secretary of
the Fund for Exploration in the Palestine.
In journalism Mortlock also was
'Urbanus' for the Church Times and assistant
editor of Country Life. He was
a member  of the Athenaeum and 
The Garrick and of sailing clubs at Fowey
and at Plymouth. Jesus College Cambridge
(where he studied) has a CB Mortlock
bursary for students who aspire
to being Church of England priests and sometimes
he led services, sang hymns and prayed.