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Bishopsbourne, Kent (‡Canterbury) : Weighing of Souls, Mid C.14

Weighing of Souls, Bishopsbourne, (75KB) There is a (forthcoming) Doom at Bishopsbourne, but this Weighing of Souls is entirely detached from it and faces it on the opposite (north) wall. The red masonry pattern against which it is painted forms the background to all the paintings at Bishopsbourne, including the Martyrdom of St. Edmund, also newly on the site.

A stern-looking St. Michael stands at the left, reduced now to head, halo and curving wings. He is holding the very painstakingly painted balance (the bar and the lines suspending the pans were probably ruled, rather than painted freehand). This soul is evidently not found wanting - the left hand pan of the balance drops dramatically downwards, and in it is a small figure with hands clasped in prayer.
Accumulated sins, represented here by a row of discs filling the opposite pan, failed to tip the scales. The interfering devil, painted in yellow but very faint now, stands below the right hand pan of the balance, reaching for it and trying vainly to pull it down. The entire painting, confronting anyone entering through the south door of the church, must have been a striking and discomfiting sight when it was first painted.

I suspect that the rendering of this subject was originally a much better measure of the painter’s skill than the rather more clumsy-looking Martyrdom of St. Edmund. It fits very comfortably into the available space in the spandrel between two arches, the relative proportions of the details are well handled, and there is a general air of confident assurance about the whole thing. The symbolic treatment of the sins, possibly intended as stones, effectively conveys the idea of the weight of sin on the individual soul.

Of the other paintings at Bishopsbourne, St. Nicholas with the three boys in the barrel was new on this site at the last update (click the link to see it). The rather problematic and atypical Doom will be here in due course.

Woman Donor, Doom at North Cove
Ashampstead, Berkshire Attleborough, Norfolk (Christ in Majesty) Bacton, Suffolk Bartlow, Cambridgeshire (Weighing) Beckley, Oxfordshire Bishopsbourne, Kent (Weighing)
Blyth, Nottinghamshire Bradfield, Norfolk Broughton, Bucks. Broughton, Cambs Catherington, Hampshire (Weighing) Chelsworth, Suffolk
Chesterton, Cambs. Corby Glen, Lincs Coventry (Holy Trinity Church), Warwickshire Croughton, Northants (Weighing) NEW Dauntsey, Wiltshire NEW Flamstead, Herts.
Great Harrowden, Beds Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire Houghton Conquest, Beds (Christ in Majesty) Ickleton, Cambs. Lenham, Kent (Weighing) NEWMarston Moreteyne, Beds
Marton, Cheshire Newington-next-Sittingbourne, Kent North Cove, Suffolk Oddington, Gloucestershire Pickworth, Lincs Potter Heigham, Norfolk
Rotherfield, E.Sussex (Doom) Rotherfield, E. Sussex (Weighing) Salisbury, Wilts Slapton, Northants (Weighing) South Leigh, Oxon (Doom)
South Leigh, Oxon (Weighing) Stoke-by-Clare, Suffolk Stratford-On-Avon, the Guild chapel, Warwickshire NEW Wenhaston, Suffolk West Somerton, NorfolkWidford, Herts
Wissington, Suffolk Yaxley, Suffolk

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Anne Marshall 2002**++4/3/13