Tuesday, 25 May 2010
One of my favourite images of Our Lady is the poster 'Our Lady of London' which was designed in 1935 by Martin Travers. I took this photo of it from a surviving copy hanging in a Nottinghamshire church. Our Lady has twelve stars around her head and is set in a crescent moon, superimposed against the sun, holding the Blessed Infant. Below is the sillouhette of the London skyline and St Paul's cathedral against a dusky sky. It is a striking image.
Monday, 24 May 2010
Glass at Doddiscombsleigh in Devon.
So you are medieval priest in a rural parish, with very fews clerks to hold your liturgical books for you. What do you do at a baptism with your nice new copy of the Sarum Manual? Well you either use a wooden lectern or have a stone one constructed against the pillar next to the font. That is precisely what they did at Beckley in Oxfordshire, where a fifteenth century stone lectern built as an integral part of a pillar next to a plain reset Norman drum font. There are one or two stone gospel lecterns still in existence, built out from the north wall of the chancel, but this font lectern is, I think, a unique survival.
The sixteenth and seventeenth century was a time of great social flux, with the population of England rising. There were winners and losers in this rapid movement and poverty rose considerably. The losers were, of course, as you would expect, the labouring classes. The winners were not the usual suspects, the nobility and gentry, but the 'middling sort', artisans and craftsmen, who with a rise in population found an increased demand for their skills. In this time of boom they invested heavily in property. From this new found affluence and with the memory of their own struggle at the back of their minds, the middling sort developed a strong sense of social responsibility and the charity boards at Bardney reflect that.
The earliest board (above) commemorates the generosity of two members of the same family, both of the middling sort, Joseph Knowles and his uncle John Knowles. Joseph, from Bardney, was an apprentice in London who died in 1603 at the age of twenty five. He had managed to accumulate thirty pounds and this was invested in property to provide an income to buy bread for the poor. When his uncle died, he followed the nephew's example and added an extra ten pounds to the investment, making the weekly disbursement of twelve pence worth of bread. The board bears the portraits of the two benefactors, Joseph has hand placed on a skull, John holding a Bible.
At the bottom a finger points to the exhortation 'Go and do thou likewise', the final command of Christ at the end of the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10. 25-37). A challenge to their neighbours.
Well thirty years later one of their neighbours did likewise. For on the opposite wall of the nave is a similar board. William Hurstcroft, who died in May 1639, gave one of his properties to provide an income to be divided between the poor of Bardney and Newport in Lincoln. Presumably he was in trade in Newport. We are told that this was only one of 'other charitable deeds'. At the top of the panel, like John Knowles clutching in his hand his Bible. The charitable response a consequence of internalising the scriptures.
Sunday, 23 May 2010
After saying mass on the altar at Torksey, I removed the frontal to take some photos of the fascinating object it covers. The front of the stone altar at Torksey is formed from a fifteenth century incised slab. The centre of the slab has a full length, but very worn, figure of a woman. She wears a long gown, her fully covered head resting on a tasselled pillow, a little lap dog playing at her feet. The marginal inscription around her is fairly generic 'Hic jacet Domina Margareta' it says 'Here lies Lady Margaret'. The slab is very broken and sadly the bit of slab that gave her surname is badly damaged, but you can work out that her name ended in 'on'. She died sometime in the fifteenth century, but once again the bit that was engraved with the year has been broken. On either side she has two shields of arms, 'barry of six', but in the absence of tinctures, they are frustratingly of little use. So Lady Margaret the anonymous.
It has been suggested that the figure was that of the last prioress of the Priory of Fosse, a poor Cistercian priory within the parish of Torksey. Given that the priory was dissolved in 1539 and the slab is fifteenth century, that seems unlikely. Various suggestions have been made to complete the name of the 'prioress', including Margaret Winton and Margaret Multon. However, neither name accords with any in the list of prioresses in the Victoria County History. The only Margaret who served in that office was Margaret Barnby elected in 1410 and as the surname of this mysterious Lady Margaret ends in 'on' this is a blind alley too. So for the moment she remains unidentified.
Personally I am not convinced she is a prioress at all. I would expect her ecclesiastical position to be noted in the inscription and it is not. Also the little lap dog at her feet is perhaps indicative that she is in fact a lay woman, I can't imagine a prioress of a poor and austere Cistercian house (and in 1539 it was described as a 'beggarly poor house') is likely to have owned or asked to be portrayed with such a luxury on her grave slab.
For some reason F A Greenhill, the slab historian, managed to miss this slab in his 'Monumental Incised Slabs in the County of Lincolnshire' even though he recorded another inscription in the church. I suppose the location of the slab doesn't help! Anyway an interesting puzzle, one that I am determined to work at. My next stop is a search of Lincoln Wills to see if any match up.
Monday, 17 May 2010
Browsing on friends photos on Flickr I came across this lovely image of the south side of the chancel at Silchester in Hampshire by Eric Hardy. The splays of the windows are decorated with a red ochre masonry and rosettes, part of a 14th century scheme that appears to cover the rest of the chancel interior. It reminded me of the decoration on the arches at Down Ampney in Gloucestershire a featured recently.
Saturday, 15 May 2010
Friday was my day off, so I had a trip out with my camera to Laughton, near Gainsborough in north-west of Lincolnshire. I had visited this church before in the summer of 2005, but my photos were not good, so a new set were needed. The church was breathtaking in 2005 and as I stooped down to enter via the south chancel door the building was just as staggering.
Before the 1890s Laughton church was a somewhat dilapidated medieval building. It had been a fine structure and the remaining high quality Transitional north arcade is ample evidence of that. I understand that the chancel was early Decorated and there was much Perpendicular work too. Among the treasures of the church is a fine early fifteenth century brass to a member of the Dalison family, appropriated by a later member of the same family.
In the final quarter of the nineteenth century the lady of the Manor of Laughton and patroness of the living, was a widow, the Hon. Mrs Emily Charlotte Meynell-Ingram. The daughter of the first Viscount Halifax, she had married a wealthy MP called Hugo Francis Meynell-Ingram, who owned a considerable property, including Laughton and Temple Newsam hall in Yorkshire and Hoar Cross in Staffordshire. Tragically Hugo Meynell-Ingram died in 1871 in hunting accident, before he and Emily had any children. She a devoted churchwoman, who was greatly influenced by her brother, the Anglo-Catholic 2nd Viscount Halifax, set about building and rebuilding churches in her husband’s memory. The first work she undertook was the construction of the Church of Holy Angels in Hoar Cross, which was completed in 1876. It was a new building, designed by the fashionable Gothic revivalists G F Bodley and Thomas Garner. Here Mr and Mrs Meynell Ingram are buried side by side under marble effigies.
Twenty years after completing Hoar Cross, Mrs Meynell-Ingram decided to restore Laughton church and she turned to Bodley and Garner once again. The nave of the church was thoroughly restored and a new chancel was built in the Decorated style. The work of restoration was once again a memorial to her late husband and his effigy in white marble, a copy of that at Hoar Cross, is at the east end of the nave. Mrs Meynell-Ingram died in 1904, but her nephew and heir, Lord Halifax, continued the work of restoration at Laughton, which was finally completed in 1926 with the glazing of the nave by Burlison and Grylls. I will say no more and let the photos of this glorious, but little known building, speak for themselves.
My full Flickr set is here.
Thursday, 13 May 2010
You may also like to have a look at a previous article I wrote on on the glazing of East Harling in Norfolk, as there is a comparable image of the Ascension.
Tuesday, 11 May 2010
The two above, decorated with demi figures of male and female civilians, are at Hanwell in north Oxfordshire.
The example above, with four men in chainmail, is at Hampton Poyle also in Oxfordshire
And the last one is at Ludgershall, Buckinghamshire (Martin Beek's photograph) is a similar example. Interestingly the quality of the capitals at Hampton Poyle and Ludgershall are not so fine, does this suggest that the trend was set by the Hanwell capitals?
For more images of capitals, figurative and foliate, see my capitals set on Flickr
Monday, 10 May 2010
If you want to see an image or two of the reredos and the image of Our Lady uncovered, there are a couple of nice photos on Brother Lawrence Lew's photostream. Here and here.
Friday, 7 May 2010
Fingest is a tiny village in the Chilterns in south Buckinghamshire. The village is dominated by the mighty Norman western tower of St Bartholomew's church. In fact the tower is so mighty, 27 foot square, that it makes the church attached (mostly of 1866 by G E Street) look faintly silly. Sir Alfred Clapham in his volume English Romanesque Architecture before the Conquest, published in 1930, argued that the tower was constructed to serve as the nave of the church. To this tower/nave was originally added just a small chancel.
The breadth of the tower evidently caused some roofing issues and the tower is currently made weatherproof by a pair of saddleback roofs of the 14th or 15th century. The whole structure, build of flint rubble, is covered in stucco. It's ochre limewash giving it rather a continental air.
Thursday, 6 May 2010
The Norman chancel arch at Glympton in Oxfordshire has the following interesting and tantalising inscription carved on its jamb: 'Dedicatio hujus templi Idus Martii' i.e. 'this temple was dedicated on the Ides (15th) of March'. Sadly the stone with the rest of the date has been replaced, but presumably the dedication took place on a 15th of March sometime towards the end of the 12th century, if the style of the arch is anything to go by.
Glympton church, with its perfectly preened churchyard stands in the middle of a north Oxfordshire estate owned by a Saudi prince.
Wednesday, 5 May 2010
Down Ampney, Gloucestershire is the birthplace of Ralph Vaughan Williams. The beautiful village church has a transitional north arcade, c.1200, with very early stiff leaf capitals. The arches are delightfully stencilled with a rather erratic powdering of ochre roses. This decoration is so wonderfully rustic and haphazard, notice the stencilling of the centre arch hasn't even been completed!
Looking back through the Flickr archives I came across this bench end at Cumnor in Berkshire, a double-sided poppy head decorated with instruments of the Passion on one side and the cross, a sacred monogram and the five wounds on the other. It rather speaks for itself.
Saturday, 1 May 2010
As we enter May, the month of Our Lady, here are a group of late medieval quarries decorated with Gillyflowers or Carnations. Carnations were one of a myriad of flowers that were associated with Our Lady in the Middle Ages. The etymology of the word Carnation is not precisely certain, but some argue that the name is a corruption of Incarnation!
These Carnations are at South Muskham in Nottinghamshire and just down the road at Kelham is the following interesting glass, a roundel decorated with a white flowering rose.
Sadly the legend on the roundel is damaged preventing a full determination of the text, but it possibly alluded to Our Lady who was often represented by the white rose, the Queen of flowers.
This roundel is in the tracery of a north aisle window at Kelham and in the next door window are a couple of IHS monogram roundel and this lovely 'MR' monogram. The initials stand for 'Maria Regina', Mary the Queen of Heaven and allude to the long held tradition that Our Lady was bodily assumed into heaven and crowned queen by her son. As late as 1913 the main lights of the windows also contained the repeated inscription 'lade helpe', so these windows evidently had a Marian theme.