Find Wenhaston on a map
Below, the drama proceeds. Immediately below Christ and the cross-bar of the Rood outline, four of the Saved, a king, a pope, a cardinal and a queen, identifiable by their headgear but otherwise naked, are met by St. Peter, in full pontifical vestments including Tiara, holding his key, while to the right of the upright of the cross-outline (detail, left), the Weighing of Souls is taking place. St. Michael has a white robe and red cloak, instead of the armour he sometimes wears in this scene. There is a tiny kneeling soul in the lefthand pan of the balance, and a large black devil with a face on his abdomen is trying to weigh down that opposite with, among other things, an inscribed scroll no doubt detailing sins committed. It is hard to read, but is reminiscent of the inscribed scrolls thrust at a dying man by devils in woodcuts in the Ars Moriendi². Two small devilish creatures, one of them greenish, perhaps for Envy, sit in the scale-pan trying to make up the weight.
To the right of the Weighing is the Mouth of Hell (below right), literally painted as usual as a monstrous sea-creature. There are damned souls inside and various devils; a red one carries off a woman upside down on his back, a horribly grimacing black one sits in the Hell-mouth hauling another woman in by her leg. Another perches on top of the Mouth, blowing a curved horn.
Above all this (main picture), two souls in prayerful attitudes, one still hooded in a shroud, wait to proceed in one direction or the other. Diagonally opposite, at the lower far left beyond St. Peter, is Heaven, with several small windows shown; one saved soul is at the door and another climbs the stairs to the destroyed upper part. Heaven is quite frequently shown as a building (Broughton [Bucks], Gt.Harrowden, Marston Moreteyne, South Leigh), but glimpses of the interior, as here, are very rare, and I will include a close-up detail of it at a future update.
The text painted underneath is curious. It is not contemporary with the Doom and must have been added some time after the Protestant Reformation, perhaps at around the time of the Second Act of Uniformity of 1552. It is in English and is part of Romans 13:1-4, but which translation of the Bible it comes from has never (so far as I know) been discovered. It reads;
Let every soule submit him selfe unto the authorytye of the hygher powers for there is no power but of God the Powers that be are ordeyend of God, but they that rest* or are againste the ordinaunce of God shall receyve to them selves utter damnacion. For rulers are not fearefull to them that do good But to them that do evyll for he is the mynister of God.³
Although it is not absolutely clear whether the painting was visible when the text was added (it was covered with whitewash when it was found in 1889), it seems almost certain that it was. The warning about political dissent, cleverly presented in conjunction with the old and familiar iconography of ultimate salvation or damnation, is at any rate clear enough.
¹A daughter house (Augustinian canons) of St. Osyths Abbey - The house was small with rarely more than 4 canons, and although the benefactions were considerable, the revenues were surprisingly small, English Medieval Monasteries : A summary - Roy Midmer, Heinemann, 1979, p.71
²e.g. as in Eamon Duffy, The Strippping of the Altars, Yale, 1992, Pls. 117-119
³As transcribed in the leaflet in the church
*Perhaps resist was intended.
Website for Wenhaston
|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) NEW||Marston 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, Norfolk||Widford, Herts|
|Wissington, Suffolk||Yaxley, Suffolk|
© Anne Marshall 2000