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Incident in the Life of St.Eloi? : Wensley, N.Yorks (‡Ripon) C.15

Photo:T.Marshall St. Eloi shoeing a possessed horse, Wensley [102KB] This painting is identified in some sources as Jacob and Esau, but that seems to me unlikely, and I think it is probably St. Eloi or Eligius (the ‘Seinte Loy’ by whom Chaucer’s Prioress swore¹). Eloi was not only bishop of Noyon in France in the first half of the 7th century, but a goldsmith and metal worker of great renown. The best known legend attached to him concerns his shoeing of a horse possessed by the Devil. The creature was quite uncontrollable, and Eloi solved the problem of shoeing it by removing its leg, and then restoring it with the new shoe in place.

At the top of the picture either Eloi himself or a huntsman (perhaps the latter is more likely) with a bow over his shoulder and arrows at his belt leads in a suitably devilish-looking horse, wide-eyed and grinning malevolently. Below, a figure wearing what seem to be clerical vestments and perhaps with a tonsure, wields a hammer. This is, I think, Eloi, ready to deal with the demonic horse. There have been other details in the background, especially at the lower right, but it is impossible to say what they are now.

This is one of very few paintings in the English parish church to feature this particular incident, so far as I know, but St. Eloi is also at Broughton in Buckinghamshire, in the company of St. Helena and with blacksmithing tools in a panel below him. The incident of the horse is also painted at Shorthampton in Oxfordshire, (where there are many interesting paintings) but it is very difficult to see. The version at Slapton is also now on the site, as is the Three Living & The Three Dead at Wensley itself.

¹ Canterbury Tales; General Prologue, l.120, Chaucer, Complete Works, ed. Robinson, Oxford, 2nd. edn. 1974

Please note - St. Eloi should be facing RIGHT not left. I will turn him round as soon as I can.

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, DorsetSt Michael, with kneeling donor, South Newington, Oxfordshire NEW
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.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 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. 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. Thomas Becket, Murder of : Brookland, Kent NEW
St. Walstan of Bawburgh? or St. Edmund : Gisleham, Norfolk St. Zita : Horley, Oxon St. Zita : Shorthampton, Oxon Unidentified female saint : Heydon Unidentified saintly bishop (once thought to be St. Denis) : Little Wakering, Essex NEW

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Anne Marshall 2001