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.

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

A medieval Derbyshire priest in alabaster

Recent days have seen a series of news reports about a mid-fourteenth century effigy of a priest that had even all but forgotten about in the parish church at Barton upon Trent in south Derbyshire. Hidden for a long time behind the organ the effigy was revealed during a major renovation of the church and has attracted considerable attention.

One reason is the fact that it appears to be the earliest alabaster effigy of a priest. The second is the quality of the workmanship. The fact that the church is close to the main area of medieval alabaster quarrying and carving adds to our understanding of the trade. A third point of interest revealed by the effigy is through the survival of significant remains of the paintwork which once covered it. This is a reminder that painting effigies was usual and that we may miss much today when we see just the alabaster, however beautiful that may be in itself.

There is an account of the church - which has a Newman connection in that Alice Mozley, sister of St John Henry’s two brothers-in-law, is buried in the churchyard - on Wikipedia at St Wilfrid's Church, Barrow-upon-Trent

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