These are links to the various newspapers in which the obituary appeared.

The Times

Daily Telegraph


Ampleforth Journal

Malton Gazette



The Times

19 December 2002

Sculptor who created great tributes to saintliness and sacrifice, inspired by his deep religious conviction

POWERFULLY primitive, sometimes even Neanderthal, John Bunting's robust sculptures, worked in stone, bronze and hard woods, are infused with a dignity and compassion that celebrate his reli­gious conviction. Life, death, love and suf­fering were his constant themes, vigor­ously expressed .in subjects such as Ma­donna and Child, Christ Crucified and the poignant Soldier from his memorial chapel of 1957-60. A Roman Catholic, he wrote in 1957: "It is obvious that a sculp­tor who has a conviction will have more power than one who has not realised his beliefs." His work proves the point.

The son of a City of London tea-broker, John Joseph Bunting succumbed precociously early to artistic influence, gaining an appreciation of artefacts from the monks at his Benedictine prep school, where he also worshipped at a church designed by A. W.Pugin. At his public school, Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire, his artistic understanding took a major leap forward when his attention was riveted by the school's astonishing furniture, made huge and heavy to withstand the assaults of young boys but carved by the local artist Robert Thompson, to include his enchanting trademark mouse climbing up the chair backs or table legs.

As a new boy, Bunting wasted no time in walking the ten miles to Thompson’s workshop in nearby Kilburn. Years later he was to write of the older man in The Tablet: “He had only to be true to what lay close at hand – English oak; solid workmanship; reverence and love for the craft he practiced; greater joy in what he did than in the money he gained from it.” Apart from the fact that he also worked in stone and bronze, much the same might be said of Bunting’s own career.

Thompson gave Bunting a piece of oak and some chisels to take home for the holidays, and before long the schoolboy had created a workshop at the top of his parents house and started carving bookends to sell to the London shops. Under the growing influence of sculptors such as Henry Moore, Eric Gill and Leon Underwood, whose works he studied in the Ampleforth library, he spent three months working with Thompson on leaving school, his interest shifting away from carving ornament and tracery towards working on figures: here was the sculptor in the making. After National Service with the Royal Marines, he worked again with Thompson, but called one holiday on Henry Moore, who advised him to go to art school, which Bunting did, studying at St Martin’s Art School and the Royal College of Art.

In 1951 Bunting received his first commission, for some beam ends for the Catholic Chaplaincy at the Old Palace in Oxford, and he followed this with his walnut carving, The Sower, and with Dark Lament, a piece carved in African blackwood, showing two figures sharing a secret sorrow.  In 1955 he was appointed drawing and art master at his old school, Ampleforth, where he proved an inspiring teacher of pupils including the future portraitist Andrew Festing and the sculptor-to-be Antony Gormley.

Becoming sculptor in residence at Ampleforth in 1984, he continued producing new works there, for both school and abbey until 1995. His first commission from the abbey was for a figure of St Benedict above the monastery’s entrance door, celebrating the saint’s 1500th birthday in 1980. His bronze of 1997, The Good Samaritan, thought by some to be his best single piece of work, was donated to Ampleforth – as, this year, were a bronze group to stand to the North of the monastery and four plaques for different houses.

But Bunting’s most significant legacy to his old school was the memorial chapel he created between 1957 and 1960 on a hill overlooking Oldstead, on the edge of the North York moors, and dedicated to old Amplefordians killed in action – Hugh Dormer, D.S.O.; Michael Allmand V.C. and Michael Fenwick; all of whom were killed in the Second World War. Robert Nairac, G.C., was added to that trio when he was killed in 1997 in Armagh.

As a schoolboy, Bunting had turned a tea chest into a miniature chapel with altar and candlesticks, and lighting powered by torch batteries. Then in 1955 he had been hugely impressed by the Chapel erected at Beni-Abbes in the Sahara desert by the missionary Charles de Foucauld. These two incidents were to lead, in 1957, to his embarking on the remarkable project in which he created a memorial chapel from a derelict farm building and placed in it what has become one of his best known and most poignant sculptures; that of a recumbent soldier, representing Hugh Dormer, wearing a paratrooper’s helmet and commando boots and holding a rosary. It was carved, in a manner evocative of an old Crusader tomb, from a large block of York stone.

Bunting was separated from his wife Romola Farquharson, whom he married in 1956. He is survived by their two sons and three daughters.

John Bunting, sculptor, was born on August 3, 1927. He died on November 19, 2002 aged 75.

[back to top]


Daily Telegraph

December 5 2002

Ecclesiastical sculptor and engraver who taught art at Ampleforth John Bunting, who has died aged 75, was a noted sculptor and engraver and a key figure at Ampleforth College and Abbey in North Yorkshire. 

Bunting was the drawing and art master at the school for 40 years.  His former pupils included the portratist Andrew Festing and sculptor Anthony Gormley, whom Bunting introduced to the work of Jacob Epstein and Eric Gill.  "I can still remember...those drawing classes," Gormley recently recalled.  "We'd clear out the desks, and he'd set up something for us to draw.  There was such an atmosphere of concentration and silence:  a group of 10 people in a half-circle around this thing, and John fluently going from one to the other.  It was a real gift to be allowed to spend protracted time looking."  Despite his reputation as a formidable teacher, Bunting was, first and foremost, a sculptor, whose work consistently celebrated and sustained the religious ideals that inspired him throughout his life.

Wrought in stone and hard woods, his sculptures were deliberately crude and primitive, for although in his early days he had embraced modernism, he later rejected it and reverted to the pre-renaissance tradition of craftsmanship.  His figures were simple - almost always celebrating Christian themes such as the lives of the saints, the Madonna and Child, and the Stations of the Cross but they were infused with life, twisting, 'lithing and cavorting in dramatic portrays of human suffering and love.

The main body of Bunting's work was in the North of England, much of it commissioned by the monastery and school of Ampleforth, for which he made numerous pieces.  His most enduring monument, however, is the multi denominational Memorial Chapel on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.  The inspiration for the Chapel, which had once been a derelict barn, came in 1955 when Bunting travelled to Beni-Abbes in the Sahara Desert, to see the buildings and chapel at the missionary Charles de Foucauld had erected there.  In 1957, Bunting converted the barn into a memorial dedicated to four Old Amplefordians, three of whom were killed in the Second World War and one of whom died in Northern Ireland.

Here he carved, from a large block of york stone, one of his best-known pieces, The Soldier, a recumbent figure wearing a paratrooper's helmet.  The sculpture was a representation of Hugh Dormer, an Old Amplefordian and SOE officer who died in Normandy in 1944.  Bunting described the monument as his attempt at repayment "on a debt that cannot be repaid" and each summer, some of the Upper VI leavers celebrate Mass at the chapel and enjoy a picnic in its environs.

John Joseph Bunting, the son of a tea broker, was born in London on August 3 1927.  He attended the Benedictine prep school of St Augustine's at Ramsgate, before going on to Ampleforth.  There his housemaster was Father Columba, a formative influence, as was Robert "Mousey" Thompson (so named because of the finely carved mice which would adorn the table legs or chair backs of his furniture), whose workshop at the nearby village of Kilburn made much of the furniture for the school.  Young John became enthralled "by the smells of oak and leather and beeswax - by the sight of men working, carving and assembling pieces of furniture".

On leaving school in 1944, Bunting spent three months working for Thompson.  After National Service in the Royal Marines, he returned to Thompson's workshop in 1948, moving to London the following year in order to study at St Martin's School of Art.  It was here that he became increasingly interested in the religious sculpture of Henry Moore and Gill.  He also came to know the work of Leon Underwood, who blended contemporary European, Central American and African sculpture.  The two men became friends and Underwood was a dominant and profound influence of Bunting.  After a period spent travelling around Europe, and Spain in particular, Bunting took up a place at the Royal College of Art, after which he won a British Council travelling scholarship to Spain.

In 1951 he received his first commission and by the mid-1950's, he was becoming increasingly sought after as a church sculptor, with his work ranging from whole figures to reliefs, inscriptions and carvings.  In 1955 he was appointed drawing master at his old school and, 29 years later, he became sculptor-in-residence, continuing to work for the school until 1987.  Even after retirement he produced more than 100 new works.  Over many years Bunting made numerous sculptures for the school and the abbey including the St Benedict above the entrance door of the monastery, celebrating the 1,500th anniversary of the saint's birth.

An avid reader of histories and biographies, Bunting was also a clubman, a bon-vivant and a fine trencherman, who was never happier than when in company.  John Bunting, who died on November 19 2002, married Romola Farquharson in 1956.  They separated in 1978.  He is survived by their two sons and three daughters.
[back to top]



December 19 2002

A traditional sculptor, his work was a tribute in stone to his religious faith.

For more than 30 years, John Bunting, who has died aged 75, taught drawing at Ampleforth College, Yorkshire. His classes differed from those he had attended at art school in London in the late 1940s only in the lack of a naked life model, considered inappropriate at a monastic boarding school. Pupils, sitting in a semicircle, were encouraged to hold their pencils, palms up, between thumbs and forefingers, and draw from their shoulders rather than their wrists, always seeking out, in Bunting's mantra-like phrase, "the values of light and dark". This might have proved an arid seedbed for generations of teenagers had the classes not been accompanied by Bunting's inspirational monologue. This might start with the wartime experiences of the artist-poet David Jones, touch on the films of Vittorio de Sica and arrive, seemingly logically, at Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes.

Antony Gormley is one of a number of artists who trace their careers back to Bunting's art room. Many other pupils continued to value his friendship and generosity long after they left school. Regulars at his classes soon became familiar with Bunting's heroes: Belloc, Chesterton, TE Lawrence, TS Eliot, Leon Underwood, Henry Moore; Captain Cook, Thor Heyerdahl and, above all others, Eric Gill. These names were the signposts to his world beyond teaching: Catholic life and letters, wartime heroism, poetry, Yorkshire, the sea and, first and foremost, his sculpture, which, as has been written, "consistently celebrated and sustained the religious ideals that inspired him throughout his life".

John Bunting was born in London, a tea broker's son. He was sent to school at Ampleforth in 1941 ("in spite of getting single figures out of 100 in algebra and geometry. For arithmetic I managed to get into the modest 20s"). The school and monastery were fitted out with robust oak furniture made at nearby Kilburn by Robert Thompson - famous for the discreetly positioned carved mice with which he signed his work. Bunting sought out the Thompson workshop and was immediately enthralled. "When the summer came I determined to spend a week at Kilburn - in this one week I found my vocation, though it took another 40 years to work it out." After leaving school, Bunting spent three months working for Thompson and returned in 1948, after national service in the Royal Marines and his first taste of the sea.

A deep empathy for the landscape and people of north Yorkshire was to stay with Bunting throughout his life, but a visit to Henry Moore sent him back to London. "He looked at my photographs of carvings, then advised me to go to art school and learn to draw and get a teaching qualification to be able to earn a living. Then he asked me to tea. This was good advice and I acted upon it and applied to St Martin's School of Art." Moving on from there to the Royal College of Art, Bunting was taught by some of the pre-eminent sculptors of the day - Frank Dobson, John Skeaping and, most influentially, Leon Underwood.

The long college holidays offered the first chance for travel in postwar Europe, most particularly to Spain, where he returned in 1955 on a British Council scholarship to study 17th-century sculpture. From Spain, the opportunity arose to visit the chapel built at Beni-Abbes in the Sahara by the French soldier turned hermit-martyr, Charles de Foucauld. After that visit, as he wrote in one of the many autobiographical booklets he published in later life: "I determined to build and decorate a chapel by myself without interference."

Back at Ampleforth, his former housemaster was now prior of the monastery. "I told him of my resolve. 'Why not build your chapel here in Yorkshire?' he asked. 'The school needs someone to teach drawing, you could work here.'" And so Bunting started work both in the school art room and on his War Memorial Chapel, high above the Vale of York on the edge of the moors near Sutton Bank.

Formerly a derelict barn, this chapel, dedicated to the memory of four Old Amplefordians killed on active service, contains The Soldier (1958), perhaps a quintessential Bunting sculpture. Carved from a single block of York stone, the recumbent figure has the round face, stocky build and heavy boots of its creator. The paratrooper's helmet suggests the noble realism of CS Jagger's Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner, but the slumbering, twisting form is a throwback to the romanesque and gothic tradition of ecclesiastical sculpture - indeed, The Soldier incongruously holds a rosary.

For Bunting, the chapel and its contents were "a sculptural tribute to simple belief in the traditional practices of the faith". From the 1960s onwards a steady stream of sculptural commissions occupied Bunting alongside his teaching at Ampleforth and York School of Art. Some - but not as many as he would have liked - were from the monastery and school, others from around the north of England (notably at the Church of St Thomas à Becket, Wakefield; St Bernard's School, Rotherham; and Greatham Hospital, Hartlepool).

But his work - representational, devotional, craftsmanlike - was increasingly at odds with the contemporary scene. Both the opportunity to exhibit widely and critical success eluded him. He sought solace in walking the moors, sailing small boats, the conversation of an unusually disparate circle of friends (or whoever was next to him at the bar of the village pub) and in his idiosyncratic, self-published memoirs and essays. In 1987, after 32 years, Bunting handed over the running of the art department at Ampleforth; he stayed on for a further five years as sculptor-in-residence, and always remained in the orbit of the institution that had been so central to his life. He continued to work as a sculptor until shortly before his death.

He married Romola Farquharson in 1956. They separated in 1978. He is survived by their two sons and three daughters.

John Bunting, sculptor, born August 3 1927; died November 19 2002

[back to top]


Ampleforth Journal


John Joseph Bunting born 3 August 1927 London; St Augustine's Prep School, Ramsgate 1937-41; St Wilfrid's House September 1941- December 1944; Oriel College, Oxford University 1945; Royal Marines 1945-1947; Robert Thompson 1945 and 1948; St Martin's Art School, London and Royal College of Art, South Kensington, followed by British Council Travelling Scholarship to Spain 1949-55; sculptor at Ampleforth 1955-95; taught at York School of Art; married Romola Farquharson 1956 (5 children); died 19 November 2002 London

John Bunting worked at Ampleforth for 40 years as sculptor, engraver, inscriber, drawer, art master and inspirer. For John Bunting, Art and Faith intertwine and are one. Here was a strong, stocky man with conviction and with a civilised courtesy to match. It is a world of shining walnut shoulders, of knotted buttocks and sturdy legs, and it was John Bunting's task to contribute through art to an understanding of Catholic faith.

His father, Bernard Lawrence Marie Bunting [his father was given his last name Marie in honour of Our Lady as he was born on the day after the Feast of the Assumption] was a tea broker. John was born in London in 1927. In 1937 he went to the Benedictine prep school of St Augustine's at Ramsgate, which later, when the war made the south coast a restricted zone, was evacuated to accommodation at Douai Abbey and then Cambridgeshire. Determined to help with the war effort and the harvest in the first war summer of 1940, he cycled from home to beyond Potters Bar to find a family living on a chicken hutch glad to be helped.

At Ampleforth he was in St Wilfrid's House under Fr Columba. At this time he met Robert Thompson of Kilburn, the founder of the furniture firm with the mouse symbol, and became enthralled "by the smells of oak and leather and bees wax - by the sight of men working, carving and assembling pieces of furniture". So, at the end of his first year at Ampleforth, in the Summer 1941, his parents allowed him to spend a week working at the workshops at Kilburn, after which he cycled to London with his housemaster Fr Columba, being waved off on his journey by Arnold Toynbee.

He was in the scrum as a member of the 1st XV rugby team for two seasons, under the captaincy of Ken Gray (C44, died 1996) in 1943-44 and of Denis Grehan (C45) in Autumn 1944. He left Ampleforth in December 1944, two terms ahead of his contemporaries - and spent three months from Christmas 1944 to April 1945 working at Kilburn in the workshops of Robert Thompson - his rugby captain John Greham, now living in Hampshire, has an ashtray with a mouse made by John dated 1945, clearly made in this period. Meanwhile, applying to join the navy at an interview in Darlington, he was persuaded instead to join the Royal Marines - but first, under what was known as the "Y" scheme for potential officers, he spent 6 months from April 1944 at Oriel College, Oxford studying Russian and Spanish. From October 1945 to late 1947 he served with the Royal Marines in the Chatham division. After training (of perhaps 10 months), he was posted to the 34th Amphibious Support Regiment attached to the School of Combined Operations at Fremingham in North Devon. He did much sailing - sailing the Royal Marines yacht Glowworm in the 1947 Channel race from Plymouth to Le Havre and back - due to a faulty compass and a broken forestay Glowworm returned to Dover, 60 miles off course.

In 1948 he worked again at Robert Thompson's, staying in the Fauconberg Arms in Coxwold and walking to Kilburn early every morning. It was a time when he experienced village life, the world of a village he loved, and this experience led him to work on a film script, writing the dialogue and preparing the sound track. In 1949 he studied in London at St Martin's Art School, where he was introduced to Moore's Reclining Figure then at the Leicester Gallery and Eric Gill's Stations of the Cross in Westminster Cathedral. At the Zwemmers Gallery he got know the work of the sculptor Leon Underwood, who worked on blending contemporary European sculpture, Central American sculpture and African sculpture. He came to know Underwood well and he became a dominant and profound influence on John. Meanwhile he travelled, absorbing cultures and art. In a party of eight, including Tim Odone (B44 )and Christopher Hopkins (A45), he travelled around Europe especially Spain. He went on to study at the Royal College of Art in South Kensington, and then won a British Council Travelling Scholarship to Spain. His first commission was probably in 1951-52, some Beam Ends for The Catholic Chaplaincy at the Old Palace in Oxford. In 1954 he was commissioned to do a walnut carving The Sower, and also in 1954 Dark Lament, carved in African blackwood and showing two figures sharing a secret sorrow and a love. In 1961 the sycamore figure Pilgrim's Progress shows in human terms the passage of the Christian through life - two pilgrims cherish and sustain each other on the journey. His Faith and quality of life was expressed not only through sculpture, but also in reliefs, inscriptions and carvings which are in a number of Yorkshire churches.

On the edge of the Yorkshire moors, just below the crest of the hill and above Oldstead, John built a chapel. The inspiration for this venture had come in 1955 when he travelled to North Africa, to Beni-Abbes in the Sahara, to see the buildings and chapel that Charles de Foucauld erected there, and where Charles de Foucauld lived as a hermit - later Charles de Foucauld was assassinated at Tamanrasset in 1916. Inspired by this experience, John was also influenced in general by a revival in France of religious architecture to be found in such as Matisse's chapel at Vence, Le Corbusier's chapel at Ronchamp and Picasso's Romanesque chapel at Valaurus. So John converted a ruined farmhouse into a memorial chapel dedicated to four Amplefordians, three killed in the 1939-45 war and one killed in Northen Ireland - Hugh Dormer DSO (A37 ­killed 31 July 1945 France), Michael Allmand VC (E41 - killed 23 June 1945 Burma), Michael Fenwick (A38 - killed 19 December 1941 Kowloon) and Robert Nairac GC (E67 - killed May 1977 Armagh). Perhaps for John the most remarkable of these was the poet Michael Fenwick, but in 2000 he described remembering as a boy in St Wilfrid's, Hugh Dormer, wearing his DSO lapel, returning to have meals with Fr Columba in St Wilfrid's House refectory. Years later John wrote Scullion Two, his personal journey and research over 40 years to discover gaps in Hugh Dormer's Diaries, his account of SOE operations. In particular, John identified the mysterious "B" of Hugh Dormer's Diaries as Charlie Birch, then in 2000 aged 79 - at a critical moment Charlie led Hugh Dormer to safety. In recent years each summer, Fr Edward has gone with the Upper VI leavers of St Edward's House to celebrate Mass at the Chapel and enjoy a picnic.

John worked at Ampleforth from 1955 to 1995. Fr William Price (Headmaster 1954-63) offered him a teaching post in September 1955. At first working with Fr Martin Haigh (Art Master since 1947), he started as Drawing Master teaching with six periods in the Junior House and the 8pm to 9pm period in the Upper School - and teaching one day a week at York School of Art. Fr Martin says that in effect he was in charge of the Art Department from soon after his arrival in 1955 (FrMartin was also Games Master and became Housemaster of St Bede's in 1963) and that John was the first trained or professional artist to be Senior Art Master, a position he held until the opening of the Sunley Centre in 1984. Fr Martin notes that his finest skill was in teaching drawing and that he was a notably powerful influence on boys. A few weeks before John died a former pupil, the distinguished sculptor Antony Gormley (W68) paid tribute to the teaching of John Bunting in an article in The Independent on Sunday. In 1984 John became Sculptor in residence at the newly opened Sunlev Centre. He continued to work for the school until 1987, producing in this time four large sculptures.

Following his official retirement in1987, he continued work in the Sunley Centre, and these years saw further commissions. In this period to 1994 over 100 works of sculpture had been made, and many boys and visitors had the opportunity to inspect work in progress. The tradition of William Morris, Eric Gill, David Jones, Walter Shewring, Leon Underwood and Robert Thompson had been continued and preserved.

Over many years John made a sustained cultural input to the life of the monastic community at Ampleforth. There was a carved coat-of arms and a crucifix above the doors of Junior House, the commission by Fr Jerome Lambert (C31, died 1983) of a coat of arms above the door of St Edward's House, the commission of Fr Damian Webb (C36, died l990) while renovating Kirbymoorside Church for carved angels, flowers and a dove. His first commission from the Abbey was St Benedict above the entrance door of the monastery, celebrating the 1500th anniversary of the birth of the saint in 1980. He did carvings in both East and West entrances to the Upper Building [the Scott refectory building], a statue of St Alban Roe which stands outside the chapel in the Junior House [now called Alban Roe House] and a Holy Water stoup in the South Transept of the Abbey Church. As Sculptor-in-Residence in the Sunley Centre, John worked on memorials, statues, sculptures for churches (Anglican as well as Catholic) and schools. He continued to do work for Ampleforth, such as St Thomas a Becket, St Dunstan, St Hugh, St Aidan, a rugby trophy - all these contributed by parents. The Family Group outside Bolton House and the Deposition outside Nevill House were given by him to Ampleforth. There were also works for the Grange Chapel and for St Bede' s Pastoral Centre in York, where he did a Crucifix, a Tabernacle Door, a Madonna and Child and St Bede in low relief (St Bede's Pastoral Centre in York was run by Ampleforth for the Diocese of Middlesbrough from 1987 to 1994). During these years he would often eat lunch four times a week in the monastery refectory and then talk with Fr Columba. In 2002 John donated to Ampleforth a bronze group to stand to the North of the monastery (where there was once an oak tree) and four plaques for different houses.

When John had come to teach at Ampleforth in 1955, he had moved to Oswaldkirk. In April 1956 John married Romola Farquharson at St Mary's Church, Hampstead. John and Romola had five children: Bernard (born 1957, E76), Emily (born 1959), Teresa (born 1960), Madeleine (born 1964), and Joe (born 1966, E84). From about 1978, he lived alone in Oswaldkirk and from 1985 to 2002 in Nunnington, about 5 miles from Ampleforth, where he had a studio. In late September 2002 John went to Italy to attend the marriage of his son Joe, but he was already ill, and he died less than two months later in a London hospice.

John's cousins are James Nolan (C43, died 2000) and Michael Nolan (C46 - Lord Nolan), along with the sons of James Nolan - James (T78) and Rossa (T81). There were a number of Amplefordian close friends, including Fr Columba Cary-Elwes (OA22, died 1994), Fr Aidan Gilman (A45 and a contemporary in the Royal Marines), Fr Richard Sutherland (B46, priest of Westminster, died 1974 - a companion on a number of schoolboy exploits), Tim Odone (B44, died 1998) and Kenneth Bradshaw (D40, Chief Clerk of the House of Commons).

John wrote a number of small books - including an autobiography in Sculptor's Luck (1992) and a book on the moorland chapel A War Memorial.

[back to top]


Malton Gazette

December 11 2002

A sung requiem was given for John Bunting on November 30 by the community of Ampleforth Abbey and College. Mr Bunting, who died aged 75, was the first art master at Ampleforth, and the church of Gilbert Scott was filled with family, friends and colleagues. He had been a boy in the college during wartime; twice a trainee under Robert Thompson of Kilburn ('the mouse man'); then for 40 years a charismatic teacher of letter­ cutting, sculpting and relief-work. Among his distinguished students were the portraitist Andrew Festing and sculptor Anthony Gormley. In his own right, Mr Bunting did a good deal of creative work, largely for churches: one might cycle out of Oxford to Old Marston visiting chapels, and come across crucifixes or reliefs created by him.

Mr. Bunting had three outstanding characteristics. He was challengingly tough, having been a whip for the Beagles, a hooker for two years for the 1st XV (with his colours) and a house moni­tor before joining the Royal Marines as the war ended. He was a determined artist. He was a devoted religious person, glad to live close by a monastic campus, and to turn his skills to the work of Church life. Typically, the saints he admired were the Carmelite poet John of the Cross and the soldier and traveller Charles de Foucauld (who as a Cistercian monk took the name Marie-Alberique before retreating to the Sahara). Mr Bunting spent much of his life in a chapel on a rocky ridge by Sutton Bank, which he filled with his sculptures dedicated to soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. The four military men he chose for dedication were all Amplefordians who suffered in war; Michael Allmand VC, a Chindit who died in Buma; Hugh Dormer DSO and Michael Fenwick, both Guards officers who died in Europe and a third Guardsman, Bobby Nairac GC, who died at the hands of the IRA.

Bunting saw his memorial chapel as his generation's small response to "a debt that cannot be repaid". He was appointed drawing master at Ampleforth during 1955-85 and artist-in-residence for a further decade. With his wife Romola, John brought up his family of two boys and three girls in the valley of the monks at Oswaldkirk.

[back to top]

Catalogue page 6