Behind and beside the tiny St. Francis Chapel on the Kershaw Estate called Merrywood in Marlborough, NH there is a grove of mountain laurel under a canopy of trees. The lovely waterfront scene is the setting for a natural memorial garden, the three gravestones guarded by St. Francis. Two of the stones belong to the well-liked and interesting Justin Frances Houghton Kershaw and her husband Francis Stewart Kershaw who predeceased her.
In the beginning, when the chapel was built in 1926, there was a small statue of St. Francis appropriately standing watch over a scallop-shell birdbath. It sat on an old millstone which was brought to the property from Lyndeborough, New Hampshire. The millstone and birdbath are still in place, but the statue was stolen one year in the off-season. Other vandalism has taken place on the property, so more care is now taken to protect it.
The original statue has been replaced with a less peaceful and benevolent saint, but a photograph and an ink drawing show the sensitive original work. Clothed in a monk’s cowl and robe, the bearded saint looks kindly down at the bird in his left hand that looks trustingly back up at him. The right hand is giving the creature a blessing.
Dimension/Size: Approx. 24-30″ h (size unknown)
Location: Unknown; original stolen/lost. Originally located at the Kershaw estate, Marlborough, New Hampshire
2 thoughts on “St. Francis Birdbath, 1926”
Who maintains the chapel and property?
The chapel upkeep, from what I know about it, is by the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire. The chapel employs a priest (actually a couple, both priests) to conduct services which are well-attended in the summer. It’s a beautiful place in the woods right next to the water. The priests oversee the activities of the chapel and live nearby. The Kershaws were the original owners, but now the main house is owned by the Ferranti’s of Boston.
There is a charming book about the property and the chapel called Stone Pond by W.D. Eddy.