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Detailed photographs are below, and a link at the top left of this page will take you to other paintings on this site of comparably early date, while the table of links at the bottom of the page leads to on site paintings of other saints. At the right is the central portion, showing in the centre the fragmentary figure of Edmund himself standing beside and possibly tied to, the slender tree on the right. There is virtually nothing left of his figure apart from his crown, which has a square, castellated top like a battlemented parapet. But various arrows, piercing the tree as well as Edmund, show fairly clearly , and a figure who is probably the huntsman who found the kings body stands at the far left, possibly pulling out one of the arrows.
Lower down is an allusion to one of the most popular legends about Edmund, that of the wolf (or dog) who found his severed head. The creature stands on its hind legs, front paws braced, presumably against another tree, head turned to look at the saint. The story of the wolf who guarded Edmunds head until it was found was enormously popular, especially in East Anglia, and there is a bench-end carved with the wolf and the head at Hoxne in Suffolk, which has always claimed to be the true place of the martyrdom.
The photograph at the left shows the left hand side of the apse wall. There are three tiers, and there is is very little left of the subject at the top, but the symbolic figure representing the True Church (top left) holds a small red-painted cross (possibly once a processional Cross with a long shaft). There may be a building in the background, and/or the figure may hold a model of a church. Immediately below are the two archers, and below them the unidentified figure who is either a donor or a saint. The photograph below right shows the righthand side, described below.
The most important thing about the figure at the top right, representing Unbelief or Paganism is that she is spilling water from a pitcher (detail, top right). As a general rule, this figure, who is also sometimes described as Synagogue and represents the limitations of the Old Law, is blindfolded and has a broken staff. It is impossible now to know whether the broken staff and blindfold were once visible here. There is no association with an upturned pitcher as far as I know, but spilling water is sometimes an attribute of Intemperance, Excess or Emptiness in its metaphorical meaning of Vanitas. There may simply be confusion about categories of personification here; alternatively, it is possible that the emphasis is on Blind Ignorance, which understands nothing and whose teaching is thus vain. In some ways the figure is close to a minor allegorical character in Spensers sprawling 16th century epic The Faerie Queene, who spills the water from her pitcher and runs away in fear when she encounters personified Truth¹.
Two more archers are below this figure, one of them with legs very elegantly crossed, and below them is a haloed figure with what is possibly a key at the top left. St. Peter is thus a possibility, but if this is a key, the figure is not holding it, and other names, such as St. Felix (of Dunwich) the 7th century Burgundian evangelist and later bishop of the East Angles, or his Irish contemporary St. Fursey, who founded a monastery at nearby Burgh Castle, have been suggested.
Incomplete and faint as these paintings now are, they are important as early survivals in the commemoration history of a very popular saint. The ancient carving around the arch of the apse is visible in the photographs; the two iron rings which once supported the Lenten Veil in front of the Sanctuary are still there, and the fourteenth century painting of St. Christopher in the nave is also on these pages.
¹Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene:Books 1-111; ed. D. Brooks-Davies, Everyman, 1987, Book 1, Cantos X-X1. Spensers character runs home to her equally ignorant mother, called Corceca (blind of heart, as in Ephesians 4:18). Spensers context is a Reformation one of Catholic v. Protestant, but the structural similarity in the allegory remains, I think.
|St. Andrew Martyred, Stoke Dry, Rutland||St. Anne teaching the Virgin to read-Corby Glen, Lincolnshire||St. Antony and the Pig, Barton, Cambridgeshire||St. Barbara : Hessett, Suffolk||St. Bartholomew : Selling, Kent||St.Catherine of Alexandria, life of : Castor, Cambs||St Catherine of Alexandria, Cold Overton, Leicestershire NEW||St.Catherine of Alexandria : Hardley Street, Norfolk|
|St.Catherine of Alexandria : Old Weston, Northants||St.Catherine of Alexandria : Pickering, N. Yorks||St.Catherine of Alexandria, life of : Sporle, Norfolk||St. Catherine of Alexandria, Martyrdom of: Burton Latimer, Northants NEW||St. Catherine of Alexandria or another female saint : Ashley, Hampshire NEW||St. Clement : South Leigh, Oxon.||Scenes from the life of St. Cuthbert : Pittington, Co. Durham NEW||St. Dunstan holding the Devil by the nose : Barton, Cambs|
|St.Edmund : Boxford, Suffolk||St. Edmund : Lakenheath, Suffolk||St. Edmund, Martyrdom of : Bishopsbourne, Kent||St.Edmund, Martyrdom of : Fritton, Norfolk||St. Edmund (or St. Walstan) : Gisleham, Norfolk||St. Edmund, Martyrdom of : Pickering, N.Yorks||St. Edmund, Martyrdom of : Stoke Dry, Rutland||St. Edmund, Martyrdom of : Troston, Suffolk|
|St. Edmund, Martyrdom of : Weare Giffard, Devon||St.Eloi, Broughton, Bucks||St. Eloi and the possessed horse, Slapton, Northants||St. Eloi, as bishop & blacksmith, Wensley, N.Yorks||St.Erasmus, Martyrdom of : Chippenham, Cambs||St. Etheldreda : Willingham, Cambs||St. Francis Preaching to the Birds : Little Kimble, Bucks||St.Francis Preaching to the Birds : Wissington, Suffolk|
|St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata, Slapton, Northants||St. George & Dragon : Banningham, Norfolk||St. George & Dragon : Broughton, Bucks||St. George & Dragon : Earl Stonham, Suffolk||St. George & Dragon : Fritton, Norfolk||St. George & Dragon : Hornton, Oxon||St. George dedicating himself to the Virgin : Astbury, Cheshire||St. George, with the princess : Little Kimble, Bucks|
|St. George & the Dragon : Kirtlington, Oxon NEW||St.Helena, Broughton, Bucks||St.James the Great : Hales, Norfolk||Life of St. James, Stoke Orchard, Gloucestershire||St. James the Great, meeting pilgrims : Wisborough Green, Sussex||St. James the Great, Yelden (or Yielden), Beds NEW||St. John the Baptist, Martyrdom of : Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks||St. John the Baptist, Martyrdom of : Heydon, Norfolk|
|St. John the Baptist, Martyrdom of : Idsworth, Hampshire||St. John the Baptist, Martyrdom of : Old Weston, Northants||St. John the Baptist, Martyrdom of : Pickering, N. Yorks||Life of St. John the Baptist : Cerne Abbas, Dorset||St. John the Evangelist, Selling, Kent||St. John the Evangelist, Weston Longville, Norfolk||St. Margaret of Antioch : Old Weston, Northants||St. Margaret and the dragon : South Newington, Oxfordshire|
|St. Margaret of Antioch Martyred, Stoke Dry, Rutland||St. Margaret of Antioch, Life of : Charlwood, Surrey||Life of St. Margaret, Wendens Ambo, Essex||Martyrdom of St. Margaret, Duxford, Cambridgeshire||Martyrdom of St. Margaret, Ashby St Ledgers, Northamptonshire NEW||St. Martin dividing his cloak, Chalgrave, Beds||St. Martin dividing his cloak, Wareham, Dorset||St Michael, with kneeling donor, South Newington, Oxfordshire|
|St.Nicholas of Myra, life of : Little Horwood, Bucks||St. Nicholas of Myra, two miracles of : Wissington, Suffolk||St. Nicholas of Myra & the Boys in the Barrel, Padworth, Berkshire||St. Nicholas of Myra & the Boys in the barrel, Bishopsbourne, Kent NEW||St.Paul : Black Bourton, Oxon||St. Paul : Beckley, Oxon||St. Paul : Selling, Kent||St. Peter : Beckley, Oxon|
|St.Peter : Black Bourton, Oxon||St. Peter, Martyrdom of : Chacombe, Northants||St. Peter : Selling, Kent||SS. Peter & Paul, Old Idsworth, Hampshire NEW||St. Roch : Pinvin, Worcs||St. Sexburga? : Willingham, Cambs||S. Stephen, Martyrdom of, North Stoke, Oxon||St. Stephen, Stoning of: Black Bourton, Oxon|
|St. Stephen, Stoning of: Catfield, Norfolk||St.Swithun (?) enthroned : Old Weston, Northants||Scenes from the life of St. Swithun : Corhampton, Hampshire||St. Thomas Becket, blessing, Hauxton, Cambs.||Archbishop, possibly Thomas Becket, blessing, Shorthampton, Oxfordshire NEW||St. Thomas Becket, Murder of, Marston Magna, Somerset||St. Thomas Becket, Murder of, North Stoke, Oxfordshire||St.Thomas Becket, Murder of : South Burlingham, Norfolk|
|St. Thomas Becket, Murder of : South Newington, Oxfordshire||St. Walstan of Bawburgh? or St. Edmund : Gisleham, Norfolk||St. Zita : Horley, Oxon||St. Zita : Shorthampton, Oxon||Unidentified female saint : Heydon|
© Anne Marshall 2000