The entry door to the St.Francis Chapel at the Kershaw Estate in Marlborough, New Hampshire takes you into a tiny sanctuary, still active for summer Episcopal services. Guests at the frequent weddings here approach the chapel under a bell attached to a stone arch onto a low-walled stone terrace overlooking Stone Pond. It has been under a canopy of trees in a grove of laurel with a mountain reflected in the mirror of the water just beside it since it was built in 1926. The whitewashed stucco walls are punctuated with a bright blue wooden door and woodwork trimming the windows. Above the entry in a lunette is a bas-relief of St. Francis kneeling and blessing a wolf. A child following him bears gifts accompanied by a lamb and birds fly and perch nearby. A peaceful scene in a serene place.
The colors of the plaster carving have faded with time and the wood and paint often need repair. In Stone Pond, A Personal History, William D. Eddy remembers that this gift of Frederick W. Allen in memory of Francis Kershaw, who had died the summer of 1930, had rich “Della Robia-like” colors. The low thick walls were thought to be built by Portugese fishermen from a mix containing plaster and seaweed. That memory was corrected to note another combination which also could have produced serious moisture problems.
The chapel has been well-maintained in spite of the moisture. Stone Pond describes the setting by saying, “If there was ever a place for feeling Franciscan about brother sun, sister moon and fruit, herb and flower, I have never encountered one comparable to this …” So St. Francis and his animals greet you as you enter this chapel door over which he kneels to welcome you.