Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

St Andrew - Patron of Scotland

My previous post concentrated on medieval English devotion to St Andrew and it seems appropriate to also note his status as patron of the Kingdom of Scots. The following is a republication of a post I wrote in 2011 about that.

Today is the feast of St Andrew the Apostle, and has been observed as such since the fourth century. Thinking about this led me to reflect on his emergence as the patron saint of Scotland, and the attendent iconography.

I have edited, adapted and in places extended the following paragraphs from the Wikipedia article on St Andrew - the whole article, and his links with other countries can be read here.

Eusebius quotes Origen as saying that Andrew preached along the Black Sea as far as the Volga, Kiev and Novgorod. In consequence he was to become a patron saint of the Ukraine, Romania and Russia. According to tradition, he founded the see of Byzantium (Constantinople) in the year 38, installing Stachys as bishop. According to Hippolytus of Rome he preached in Thrace, and his presence in Byzantium is also mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Andrew, written in the second century. This diocese was to develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople and Andrew is recognized as its patron saint.

By long established tradition Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras in Achaea on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. Early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours describe Andrew as being bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified. However a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or "saltire"), now commonly known as a "Saint Andrew's Cross" This is supposed to have been at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been (though of course, the privilege of choosing one's own method of execution is a rare privilege, indeed), and is similar to the story of St Peter being crucified upside down at his own request or insistance, and for the same reason. The familiar iconography of his martyrdom, showing the apostle bound to an X-shaped cross, does not seem to have been standardized before the later middle ages in the view of Judith Calvert in her article "The Iconography of the St Andrew Auckland Cross" in The Art Bulletin 66.4 ( December 1984, pp.543-555) p.545,n.12. She drew this as her conclusion after re-examining the materials studied by Louis Réau in his  Iconographiede l'art chrétien III.1 (Paris 1958) p.79 and held that St Andrew's Cross appeared for the first time in the tenth century, but was not to become universal before the seventeenth century, and she was unable to find a sculptural representation of St Andrew on the saltire earlier than an early twelfth century architetural capital from Quercy. However I would comment that every eleventh century or later medieval depiction of St Andrew shows him with or on the saltire.

About the middle of the tenth century, St Andrew became the patron of Scotland. 

Several legends state that the relics of Andrew were brought under supernatural guidance from Constantinople to the site which became St Andrews in Fife. Of the two oldest surviving manuscripts one is among those collected by Jean-Baptiste Colbert and bequeathed to King Louis XIV, and now in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, and the other is in the Harleian MSS in the British Library. They state that the relics of Andrew were brought by one Regulus to the Pictish king Óengus mac Fergusa (729–761). The only historical Regulus (Riagail or Rule) - the name is preserved by the tower of the church of St Rule which adjoins the remains of the medieval cathedral in St Andrews - was an Irish monk expelled from Ireland with Saint Columba; his dates, however, are c.573 – 600. 

There are good reasons for supposing that the relics which came to St Andrews were originally in the collection of Acca, bishop of Hexham, who took them into Pictish country when he was driven from Hexham (c. 732), and founded a see, not, as according to tradition, in Galloway, but on the site of St Andrews. Given that the church at Hexham had been founded by St Wilfrid, with his strong links to Rome, and more importantly that the church there was dedicated to St Andrew, this looks a tempting interpretation. The connection made with Regulus is, therefore, due in all probability to the desire to date the foundation of the church at St Andrews to an early a date as possible. 

According to legend, in 832, King Óengus II led an army of Picts and Scots into battle against the Angles, led by Æthelstan, near modern-day Athelstaneford in East Lothian. The legend states that whilst engaged in prayer on the eve of battle, Óengus vowed that if granted victory he would make Saint Andrew the patron saint of Scotland. On the morning of battle white clouds forming an X shape in the sky were said to have appeared. Óengus and his combined force, emboldened by this apparent divine intervention, took to the field and despite being inferior in terms of numbers were victorious. Having interpreted the cloud formation as representing the crux decussata upon which Saint Andrew was crucified, Óengus honoured his pre-battle pledge and duly designated Saint Andrew as the patron of Scotland. The white saltire set against a celestial blue background is said to have been adopted as the design of the Scottish flag on the basis of this legend. However, as outlined above, there is evidence that St Andrew was venerated in Scotland before this date.

It has also been suggested that St Andrew's connection with Scotland may have been reinforced following the Synod of Whitby, of 663 when the Celtic church felt that St Columba had been "outranked" by St Peter and that Peter's brother would make a higher ranking patron. In 1320 the Declaration of Arbroath cited Scotland's conversion to Christianity by Andrew, "the first to be an Apostle".

The National Archives of Scotland website has an interesting, illustrated, piece about the use of the image of St Andrew as national patron and emblem: it can be viewed here.

St Andrew also appeared on pilgrim badges from the cathedral priory at St Andrews, examples of which have been found in excavations in the city.



There are some good pictures of the remains of what was once the largest cathedral in Scotland, and something of its history here and here. There is an introduction to the site, designed for school groups, with a reconstruction drawing from Historic Scotland here. Incidentally the cathedral priory, founded about in the early twelfth century, was colonised by canons from Nostell priory in Yorkshire, and which was close to my home town.

After the Scottish War of Independence St Andrew continued as a national symbol, as in the Trinity Altarpiece by Hugo van der Goes of circa 1478-79 depicting the saint standing behind the kneeling figures of King James III and his son and successor, James Duke of Rothesay, the future King James IV.


St Andrew with King James III and the future King James IV.
From the Trinity Panels by Hugo van der Goes
Royal Collection on loan to the National Gallery of Scotland

Photo from Englishmonarchs.orm

However a somewhat similar scene with King James IV from his Book of Hours, now in Vienna, and dating to about the time of his marriage to Queen Margaret in 1503, shows St James the Great as his sponsor or patron:


King James IV at prayer.
Queen Margaret is shown top right, and beneath are the arms of the King of Scots.


Unfortunately these two illustrations are not of the highest quality but they were the only ones available on the web - due I think to copyright reasons. However they do serve to illustrate the points under consideration.

It is to this period that one may well look for the origins of the Order of the Thistle, which I discussed in my post The Order of the Thistle last year. The inventory of King James III's goods made in 1488 includes a collar of the same design as that of the present Order, and in the miniature above the royal arms in the panel on the lower right are encircled by a collar as well as those on the altar frontal in front of the King. King James V is depicted wearing a similar collar in paintings and King Charles I wore one at his coronation at Holyrood in 1633.

I posted again about this subject last year, with a better reproduction of detail from the van der Goes painting, and a bit more about the iconography and use of the colour green by the Order of the Thistle, in St Andrew and Scotland

St Andrew Pray for us

St Andrew and his churches

Today is the feast of St Andrew.

Fr Hunwicke recently posted about the feast in S Andrew is Imminent. But I am puzzled.

In it he draws attention to the fact that it was on this day that during the Rising of the North in 1569 that the insurgents restored the Catholic Mass in Durham Cathedral. This may, or may not, be coincidental but fifteen years earlier in 1554 England and Ireland had been reconciled to the Church by Cardinal Pole as Papal Legate at the request of Queen Mary and King Philip at a ceremony in Whitehall Palace. The day was appointed to be kept as an anniversary in perpetuity.

Evidence as to the popularity of St Andrew in the past is mentioned by Fr Hunwicke, although how extensive it was in medieval England is a matter about which I am not too sure. It can certainly be seen in the fact that he is the patron of two medieval English cathedrals, at Rochester and Wells. He is also the patron of the priory (“Abbey”) at Hexham and co-patron with SS Peter and Paul of the abbey and now cathedral at Peterborough. All of these are Anglo-Saxon in origin and Hexham at that period was also a cathedral. The fact that he was the brother of St Peter, given the strong English devotion to the Prince of the Apostles in the wake of St Gregory’s mission May account fir this.

In the post-Conquest era probably the most important foundation in his honour was the Cluniac Northampton priory dedicated to him. Nothing appears to remain above ground of this house but there is a short history from Wikipedia at St Andrew's Priory, Northampton and a detailed one from the VCH Northamptonshire at Houses of Cluniac monks: The priory of St Andrew, NorthamptonThis is well documented and brings out clearly the difficulties faced by Cluniac priories before denization - in this instance in 1405. Due to its central location at Northampton the house regularly, if not habitually, hosted the regular councils of English Benedictine monks in the later medieval period.

As to medieval parish churches - cities such as London with three medieval foundations that were rebuilt by Wren - St Andrew by the Wardrobe, described by Wikipedia at St Andrew-by-the-WardrobeSt Andrew Holborn, covered by Wikipedia at St Andrew Holborn (church and by Britain Express at St Andrew's Holborn Church, London, History & Visiting | Historic London Guide; the Guild Vicar is the Bishop of Fulham, Jonathan Baker, whom I knew when he was Principal of Pusey House, and thirdly St Andrew Undershaft, which is described by Look up London at Why is This Church Called St Andrew Undershaft?

Norwich has a very handsome church from the turn of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, which is described by Wikipedia at St Andrew's Church, Norwich and by Norfolk Churches here

In York there are the remains of a church dedicated to St Andrew which was closed in the 1560s consolidation of the city parishes whic reduced them by half. There are also the remains of a medieval parish church under his patronage in Worcester.

Three northern parish churches under the patronage of St Andrew that are of particular interest to me. 

Greystoke in Cumberland is a substantial late medieval parish church that was made collegiate in 1382 by the then Lord Greystoke and which is notable for its surviving late medieval stained glass. It, and its notable features are described in Greystoke, Cumbria by Wikipedia, in Greystoke St Andrew's Church by Visit Cumbria and by Explore Churches in Greystoke St Andrew
The surviving stained glass is described and shown in Greystoke Church Stained-Glassin Greystoke, St. Andrew's Church: and in Panel of the Month.

Greystoke is a fine example of a late medieval pious chantry benefaction by a local aristocrat that, being away from what we might think of as the mainstream of national life illustrates how integrated such foundations were into the life of late medieval society.

Slaidburn church in the Forest of Bowland, although apparently largely rebuilt after his time, was the first church to which the future Bishop Richard Fleming was  presented and which he held In the year 1403-4, before moving on to more lucrative pastures. His appointment does nicely illustrate how the system could work in the favour of someone like “my” Bishop. The church is notable fir its early seventeenth century woodwork. Wikipedia has a short description at Slaidburn

Bolton on Dearne church in the southern West Riding is a wonderful Anglo-Saxon survival. What makes that entertaining as well is to visit it with a copy of the appropriate Pevsner Buildings of England. I assume this is unchanged in the latest revision but the main entry by the great man dismissed the church very quickly as over-restored in a few words, barely lines. However an asterisk points the reader in the second and subsequent editions to the appendix, where the true architectural significance of St Andrew’s Bolton-on-Dearne is brought out.

Wikipedia has a short account with a photograph at Church of St Andrew the Apostle, Bolton upon Dearne and it is also covered by Explore Churches at Bolton on Dearne St AndrewWhat these do not mention is that being in the “Barnsley Biretta belt” the church has a strong Anglo-Catholic tradition which adds considerably to its charm and appeal.

I posted a somewhat similar post to this on this day in 2011 which can be seen at Devotion to St Andrew in medieval England

St Andrew Pray for us

Monday, 29 November 2021

The Gloucester Ku Klux Klan …

Over dinner last night a friend told me a story that he had no reason to doubt.

Some years ago a concerned citizen of Gloucester contacted the police there to say that they had seen a group of white caped and hooded men in the city whom they took to be members of the Ku Klux Klan. 

Mr Plod investigated. Mt Plod investigated thoroughly.

He was able to ascertain that this was not the Gloucester KKK, but in fact the white robed monks of Prinknash Abbey arriving for Evensong in Gloucester Cathedral ……

Sunday, 28 November 2021

Advent - four weeks or five?

Today is Advent Sunday, the beginning of the time of preparation and anticipation for Christmas that combines both looking at Christ’s coming in the past in time and space and also looking at his future coming when time and space as we know them shall be swept away.

Advent combines solemnity - or indeed spiritual sobriety ( the physical version is scarce these days in this season ) - with expectant joy. Often described as one of the Church’s hidden treasures it sometimes, depending upon the calendar, seems rushed and too short for proper preparation ( and all the more so in the flurry of modern shopping and suchlike )

The New Liturgical Movement recently had an interesting and carefully researched article by Gregory DiPippo about how Adent was originally longer in the West, as it still is in the East, being five rather than four weeks until the time of St Gregory the Great.

The article can be read at The Five Week Advent

The Jacobite Kennington Martyrs

Today. November 28th, is the 275th anniversary of the last of the three sets of executions of Jacobite officers at Kennington in London. Other executions of more rank and file participants in the Rising took place at York, Carlisle and Penrith.

The 1745 Association has been meeting online via Zoom with a series of monthly talks which are then uploaded to YouTube. Last month we had an excellent talk by Steven Robb about the fate of the men who were tried in London and who went to the gallows at Kennington. Of note in the illustrations were several anti-Jacobite prints of considerable elegance and remarkable ingenuity of imagination.

The video of the talk can be seen at The Kennington Martyrs

The remains of most of the men were interred at St George’s Gardens in the King’s Cross area and there is a video of the Association’s annual commemoration event there this year at St George's Gardens Commemoration August 2021

The head of Col. Francis Towneley was rescued from Temple Bar and eventually found its way to the family vault in Burnley church. I posted about his posthumous fate last year in 

A video of the Rutland Roman villa

In my last post I wrote about and linked to the reports about the discovery of an important Roman villa site in Rutland in A Roman villa in Rutland

This has now been followed by the release online of a video which includes interviews with the farmer who discovered it and with the archaeologists who worked on the site. It also includes film of the mosaic floor with its images derived from the Iliad which has in particular attracted the attention of both experts and of the media.

Thursday, 25 November 2021

A Roman villa in Rutland

The BBC News website has a report today which alerted me to the discovery of the site of what was clearly a substantial and cultured Roman villa in Rutland. It is thought to date from the third or fourth century.

What especially marks it out is that one room has a floor mosaic design indicating the literary tastes of the owners. The sizeable floor depicts the battle between Achilles and Hector from Homer’s Iliad. As a subject it is a unique discovery in this country and the mosaic is being hailed as the most important to be uncovered in a century.

The remains were initially discovered after distinctive pottery showed up in a field and initial excavation led to the villa site. Further examination of the clearly extensive site will continue next year and plans are being worked upon to present the site, which has now been scheduled, to the public.

Once again this is a case of a significant and spectacular archaeological site being found with, apparently, no previous indication of its existence.

In addition I found that The Art Newspaper has a somewhat more detailed account of the site, including the evidence for the abandonment of the villa, and that can be read at Magnificent Roman mosaic discovered in a farmer's field is 'UK's most exciting find of its kind in a century'

Monday, 22 November 2021

Men’s fashion style 1000 -1500

In my last post I linked to a piece by the Welsh Viking about the Sutton Hoo helmet. I came across that from looking at another post by him about the development of men’s fashion in western Europe between the years 1000 and 1500.  I think that is also worth sharing as a useful guide to men’s attire in the period and with that to the continuities as well as the innovations over those centuries. 

He pitches it particularly, but by no means exclusively, at his fellow re-enactors, As a result the practicalities are brought out about both the making as well as the styling of clothing. He has some good illustrations - though perhaps some deserve to stay on screen a bit longer - and one certainly gets a sense of how fashion developed, particularly in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It is all presented in a rather jaunty way, bringing out his own stylistic preferences.