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The figures are grouped in an illusionistic lunette, or half-moon shape, and the scene is divided into two by a central pillar, painted as an architectural detail. The idea was obviously to suggest an inner room on the left, and the vestibule and entrance to Jairuss house on the right. Jairuss daughter lies in bed, a weeping woman, probably her mother, standing beside her. In the doorway between the two rooms, Jairus, painted as stereotypically Jewish with a sharply pointed beard and a cap, stands, pointing to the inner chamber and obviously beseeching Christ to help the young woman. Christ himself, who has a tripartite halo, stands at the right. His pose is unusual in that his legs are crossed, with underdrawing of the limbs visible where an area of lower drapery has faded. Since this painting, unlike the others in the church, is a true fresco, completed in a single phase on wet plaster, what we see here may be the painter working out his ideas about the articulation of the figures as he applies the paint, and perhaps changing his mind in the process. There is another figure, probably Peter, who was present according to both Luke 8:41-51 and Mark 5:37 at the far right. The painter has chosen the moment before the miracle happened.
Dubious as most of Copfords painting is from the point of view of authenticity, such a lavish painted scheme is not immediately easy to account for in an ordinary parish church of the 12th century. But the very useful illustrated booklet in the church (see note below) points out that the Manor of Copford was held by the Bishops of London in Saxon times, and according to Domesday Book (1086) this was still the case after the Norman Conquest. There is no documentary evidence beyond this, but it is generally believed that the first Norman bishops would have lived in the Manor, probably at a site now occupied by Copford Hall, a Georgian building. On this hypothesis, the church would have been their chapel.
The Copford Raising of Jairuss daughter is an extremely rare example of a painting of an incident in Christs earthly ministry. One other, at Brook in Kent, is now on the site. There may once have been many more, but in that case it seems odd that so few have survived.
¹A report of the first uncovering of this painting in 1690 (it was promptly whitewashed over again), written 20 years after the event and quoted in the illustrated booklet [text by AJ Wright, 1993] in the church, identifies this painting as St. Peters mother-in-law, lying sick of a fever, as in Matthew 8:14-16, but the modern interpretation seems more likely.
Website for St Michael & All Angels, Copford
Purgatorial Ladder, with the Seven Deadly Sins, Chaldon, Surrey NEW
Passion Cycle, Ickleton, Cambs
Painted Anglo-Saxon Inscription, Breamore, Hampshire
Painted Rood (Crucifixion), Breamore Hampshire
Suicide of Judas (later), Breamore, Hampshire
Judgement with Apostles, Houghton-on-the-Hill, Norfolk Allegorical Joust, Claverley, Shropshire
David overcoming the Lion/(repainted) Knight representing a Virtue, Copford, Essex
Raising of Jairuss daughter, Copford, Essex
Martyrdom of S.Edmund & other subjects, Fritton, Norfolk
Apostle or Prophet, Little Easton, Essex Christ in Majesty, Kempley, Gloucestershire
The Three Marys (Maries) at the sepulchre, Kempley, Gloucestershire
The Fall & its Aftermath, Hardham, Sussex
Life of St. James, Stoke Orchard, Gloucestershire
Apostles & angels supporting Christ in Majesty, West Chiltington, Sussex St. Martin dividing his cloak, Wareham, Dorset
Christ in Majesty, with Judgement details, Clayton, Sussex
King Herod & an attendant, and the Flight into Egypt, Coombes, Sussex NEW
Christ in Majesty, with Traditio Legis & and illusionistic painted figure, Coombes, Sussex NEW
© Anne Marshall 2000