Friday, 24 August 2012
Saturday, 26 November 2011
The first example dates from c.1450 and is the earliest of the two patens I will show you. The paten was originally parcel-gilt, but very little of the gilding now remains. I suspect that some of it was lost in the nineteenth century, when the paten was restored. In the centre of the paten is a depressed sextfoil and this is decorated with a full-frontal bust of Christ set against a cross-hatched ground. This image, the Vernicle, is the commonest form of decoration on surviving English patens. Others in the group are decorated similarly with the Manus Dei, the Hand of God appearing in blessing from a cloud and the Agnus Dei, the Lamb of God. Like a lot of early English plate the paten is not marked.
Wednesday, 9 November 2011
St Nicholas, Salthouse on the north Norfolk coast, has a floor that it well worthy of study as a considerable amount of it is late medieval. The church was completed in 1503 with the internal division, rood and parclose screen added ten years later.
Rather than being tiled with the sort of patterned encaustics that were common in the thirteenth and fourteenth century; the sixteenth century tiles at Salthouse appear to have being laid in a simple chequerboard pattern, with a counterchange of black and yellow and in some cases green glazed tiles. The floor is worn with many years use, but there are sufficient patches where the glaze still adheres particularly against the walls of the nave and in the north and south chancel chapels, to suggest that the whole eastern part of the church was tiled in this manner. Where the original tiles have become broken or have been disturbed for burial they have in some cases been replaced with brick. That is certainly the case with the centre of the chancel.
In the chancel between the stalls and forming part of the original floor there, is the chalice brass of rector Robert Fevyr who died in 1519. The brass is let into slab of purbeck marble and there is a similar slab in the south chancel chapel. With all the red encaustic around them, these purbeck slabs rather stick out, but when originally laid amid the black and yellow tiling would have blended in rather well.
Salthouse also retains the dadoes of the rood and parclose screens, all vibrantly coloured. The figurative work of the screen are backed with a ground of counterchanged red and green, a counterchange that is also continued onto the stencilled backs of the parclose screens.
The visual effect of all this paint work, with the counterchanged tiling, and the textiles and hangings and sculpture that must have adorned the sanctuary and high altar, would have been really rather vibrant, something in appearance to the manuscript illustration below. They were certainly not afraid of colour.
Monday, 7 November 2011
The grand Perpendicular church at Ludham to the north-west of Norwich, has it's fair share of remarkable treasures, a lovely fifteenth century hammerbeam roof covering the nave a fine early Tudor rood screen with painted panels of saints on the dado, including Henry VI. He is not that unusual an inclusion as the deposed king had quite cult in the reign of his nephew Henry VII. The arch above the screen has something more remarkable, a tympanum painted rather crudely with a rood group.
The central figure of Christ crucified, who is on a cross decorated with th symbols of the Evangelists, is flanked by various figures. The usual figures of Our Lady and the beloved disciple are there, but also included St John the Baptist and the centurion Longinus, who is in piercing the side of Christ with his spear. On either side of the tableau are figures of feathered archangels, both rather chunky and clumsy looking. The whole thing is supported by rood beam decorated with barber's pole striping.
Our Lady and Longinus
Archangel and Our Lady
Our Lord, above he symbol of St John the Evangelist.
The winged lion of St Mark.
The tympanum is a rather crude affair, in great contrast to the fine and rather masterly painting of the screen below. The panel is so clumsy as it was properly hastily painted as a temporary affair. The dress of the figures and the initials J and B identifying the Baptist, are in a mid sixteenth century font and on that basis it has been suggested that the painting belongs to the reign of Mary Tudor and therefore forms part of the hasty refurbishment of the church for Catholic worship following the destruction of the reign of Edward VI, when the original rood would have been destroyed. How did it survive the reign of Elizabeth I?
Well if you go the back of the tympanum that becomes clear, the back is now covered with a canvas representation of the royal arms of Queen Bess, which once covered the rood. Where the people of Ludham hedging their bets, expecting a change of religion once again and the uncovering of their new rood.? At a later date the whole typanum and the royal arms were taken down and stored in the rood stairs, to be disoverered by an antiquarian society on their annual excursion in the ninteenth century.
Monday, 28 March 2011
to the 70s Lenten array I posted earlier. Henry Thorold described the chancel at Waithe in Lincolnshire with its tad excessive Minton tiling as all 'shining and polychromatic like a Turkish Bath'. In 1861 George Haigh of Grainsby commisioned Louth architect James Fowler to rebuild the derelict medieval church at Waithe as a family mausoleum. Fowler built a complete new church in the Early English style around the remaining Saxo-Norman tower of the late 11th century. As well as the elaborate encuastic tile work in the chancel, Fowler incorporated into the decoration lozenge shaped memorials to members of the Haigh family who are buried in a vault beneath.