Frederick Warren Allen

AMERICAN SCULPTOR, BOSTON SCHOOL

Crucifix, St. Francis Chapel, Marlborough, NH, 1926


St.Francis Chapel Crucifix detail, F.W.Allen, Sculptor, abt 1926

Allen’s eldest daughter, Barbara, and her younger brother, Frederick, both have a childhood memory of their family making a trip to see a life sized crucifix that their father, Frederick W. Allen had made for the Kershaw Estate’s St. Francis Chapel in Marlborough, New Hampshire. Barbara remembers being very proud that her father had done that impressive work. Probably just eleven years old at the time, it must have looked huge seen hanging as it was on the outside wall of the chapel overlooking the peaceful waters of Stone Pond.

The chapel and the crucifix have been well cared for on this picturesque country estate. Weekly summer Episcopal services are still held and weddings are frequent occurrences in the tiny Episcopal sanctuary.

The crucifix is carved from oak and preserved in a dark finish. It hangs on the exterior of the curved wall of the apse that houses the altar. It is assumed that it was detached at times and brought inside to protect it from the winter weather and vandals when the estate was closed up in the off season. One account in an addendum to Stone Pond by William D. Eddy relates the comical story of how, while doing repairs, a relative of Mrs. Kershaw had to stand on a Bible on the altar to “take the big Christ figure down” to remove a light fixture.

The Kershaws were well connected in the Boston art community where Francis Kershaw was a Curator at the Museum of Fine Arts. The family continues to maintain the estate as a summer house. Looking at the figure, you would never guess that this wooden work of art had been outside for 84 years! The grain of the wood is deep in places and birds have built their nests in the protected cross behind Christ’s head, but otherwise it is in excellent condition.

St. Francis Chapel Crucifix, Marlborough, NH, Frederick W. Allen, Sculptor, 1926

St.Francis Chapel Crucifix, Marlborough, NH, F.W.Allen, Sculptor, abt 1926

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David Eddy March 4, 2011 at 5:49 am

The crucifix is wonderful. It’s good condition however is due not so much to it being brought inside as much as one of the Hale did some extensive repairs about four years ago. The Kershaws have long since gone but the main house is owned by the Ferranti’s of Boston camera fame. I believe the chapel upkeep is by the Diocese of New Hampshire.
If you give me some information on Frederick W. Allen, I could include it in the next addition to the Stone Pond book. How did he come to know the Kershaws etc.
The bird’s nests are a nice addition that I myself have seen many a times.

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cabbott June 23, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I would love to share information. In addition to the Crucifix, he sculpted the bas-relief lunette of St. Francis and the Wolf, the original St. Francis garden statue and a marble bust of Francis Kershaw. I have a copy of a letter from his widow praising the sculpture. I probably have more information than would be appropriate to include here. Also, Allen’s student, Adio diBiccari, was a regular guest of the Kershaws. Perhaps we could meet in Marlborough.

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