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St.Michael Weighing Souls : Wissington, Suffolk (‡ St.Edmundsbury & Ipswich) Late C.13

Photo:T.MarshallSt. Michael Weighing Souls, Wissington [123KB] This detail of a fragmentary Doom is rather better preserved than the Passion Cycle at Wissington. I would put the date at around 1290, making it contemporary with the Expulsion at Kelmscott, which is stylistically similar. There is not much left to suggest Michael’s angelic nature, but I think the trace of pigment to the left, between Michael and the spiral upright delineating the ‘compartment’ he stands in was probably once one of his wings. If he had a halo it has gone, but his crinkled, longish hair is still visible.
Not much is left of his balance either, but part of the cross-beam can be seen at the top. A sizeable area of painting to Michael’s right has been lost, but traces remain of what is probably a female head further right - probably that of the Virgin, intervening on behalf of the soul(s) once shown in the now obliterated scales between the two figures.

There are a few 12th century paintings of St. Michael in the English church, but this example from the 13th seems to represent an intermediate stage in the development of the Weighing of Souls from simple, symbolic treatment to more dramatic, detailed and ‘naturalistic’ 15th century examples such as South Leigh and Wenhaston (links below).
Of the other paintings at Wissington, St. Francis Preaching to the Birds, unusual treatments of the Nativity/Annunciation to the Shepherds and Adoration/Dream of the Magi, Two Miracles of St. Nicholas, and the remains of a Passion Cycle, are all on the site.

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, Norfolk Widford, Herts
Wissington, Suffolk Yaxley, Suffolk

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Anne Marshall 2000