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.

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Assumption at Sandford on Thames

A conversation this afternoon between two friends about the carving of the Assumption of Our Lady in Sandford on Thames church, which lies just to the south of Oxford, and which I regret to say I have not so far managed to get to see, led me to search for it in the internet. I found this photo by Martin Beek on Flickr:

  • photo

Church of St Andrew.

The great treasure in this church is the unique carving mounted in the south wall of the chancel.It was carved from Barrington stone at the beginning of 15th century and depicts the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The carving of the Virgin is surrounded by an aureole with two angels below the figure holding a reliquary. The carving was hidden to protect it and was discovered in 1723 face down near the south porch where it had been used as a step.

It seemed an appropriate thing to share on this eve of the Assumption, and indeed to make it better known.
In addition to that summary I would point readers to three interesting posts from 2008 by Fr Hunwicke about the sculpture, which add to the story and provide food for thought. They can be found here, and here and here.

Whatever the precise source of the carving it is yet another reminder of what was lost from English churches both in terms of art and devotion during the sixteenth century.


tubbs said...

I don't quite understand. Hidden to protect it, yet used as a step? ---buried face-down I suppose.
I for one am absolutey intrigued and enthralled to find any such things that miraculously escaped the edwardine and elizabethan iconoclasm.
When was it re-installed? Is it in the interior or on the exterior of the church?

Thank you for such a great site.

Once I Was A Clever Boy said...

It was, I gather, buried face down in the porch - which looks like a definite attempt to preserve it on-site. I assume it has been in the church since it was rediscovered in 1723, and is now on the wall of the chancel. As I said in the post I have not actually seen it. I understand the church is not often open, and indeed the carving is not well known.