Thursday, 31 December 2009

I saw something today that really annoyed me.

I went up the road ten miles to East Markham in Nottinghamshire, to record some rather lovely medieval glass. I'd last visited the church in the winter of 1999 and I knew the church also had a Comper window and a Comper English altar, which would be a welcome bonus on a cold day!

East Markham, Nottinghamshire

The Comper glass is truly wonderful. It is fairly early work, dating from 1896/7 - so is an example, as you would expect from this point in his career, of rich medieval revivalism. Figures of St Hugh, St John the Baptist, the Virgin and Child, St Paul and St Cuthbert are set under tall canopies that could easily have come out of a York church.

East Markham, Nottinghamshire

East Markham, Nottinghamshire

The English altar below is rather a different matter and that is what got my blood boiling. The riddel posts remain and are still surmounted by four gilded Nuremburg angels, but all the hangings have been removed. Instead of Comper's rich textiles, the monumental stone altar is covered with a cheap and nasty white frontal, which looks like a dust sheet and is decorated with tacky appliqued cross.

East Markham, Nottinghamshire

With no dorsal or riddel curtains the riddel posts are in fact redundant and Comper's intention of visually uniting the altar with the window (as is evident in the photograph below of the altar when new) is now disrupted. Visually his work is compromised.

East Markham, Nottinghamshire

East Markham, Nottinghamshire

What is more irritating is that I discovered that many of the original hangings do in fact still survive. They are dumped in a chest at the back of the church. Thankfully they are still in good condition, but for how long. I wonder though why are they not in use? How on earth did the church get permission to remove the frontal and replace them with something that is mean and unworthy? What DAC in their right mind would allow it? Needless to say I had a little bit of a rant to myself as I spent the next hour photographing the glass.

East Markham, Nottinghamshire

East Markham, Nottinghamshire

Two of the discarded hangings from the high altar. The top one, presumably a dorsal, is quite clearly by Comper, the fabrics are his own designs. The base fabric is a beautiful murrey van der Weyden and the orphreys are in a gold St Hubert. There was probably a set of vestments to match this, as a burse is also extant. The bottom frontal, is evidently post WWI later as it has a base of Randoll Blacking's St Nicholas with red and gold St Hubert orphreys. There were other textiles in the chest, but I didn't dare get them all out!!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Every blessing

Great Kimble, Buckinghamshire

to all blog readers. May the light and peace of Christ be with you all this Christmas. Thank you for all your support this year.

Allan

Sunday, 13 December 2009

An unusual kneeling donor


Cumnor, Berkshire, originally uploaded by Vitrearum.

This early sixteenth century roundel at Cumnor in Berkshire, isn't a particularly distinguised piece of glass painting. It is however rather interesting. It appears to show a female kneeling donor of the type that was very common in the period. However it is a rather unusual treatment of such a donor image. Firstly the donor is within a roundel, that is far from normal and she is secondly set within a domestic setting, which is unusual too. She kneels at a prie-dieu in a rather fine room with a tiled floor, springers that hint at a vault with glazed windows, one glazed with quarries and a roundel. This glass is in its original position, occupying one of two quatrefoil tracery lights at the top of a nave window. That is rather odd too, as donor images are generally near the bottom of a window where they can be more easily seen. Donor images are generally placed in relationship with other images in a window, notably with images of the persons of the Trinity or of the saints. This image was probably paired with a second image in the matching quatrefoil in the tracery of this window. Frustratingly thus image has now gone and sadly the marginal inscription of this roundel is rather too broken to provide any other clues as to what that second image might have been. Quite often the relationship between donor images and other imagery in a window is expressed through scrolls with invocatory texts. This roundel has no such texts, so what can we surmise? That this is the image of a woman meditating in her private oratory?