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.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Our Lady of Bolton in Durham Cathedral

Looking at Fr T.E. Bridgett’s great compilation Our Lady’s Dowry or How England gained and lost that title on medieval English devotion to the Virgin Mary I came across a description of another, and very striking image of the Virgin in the pre-reformation cathedral at Durham that is recorded in The Rites of Durham. This was the statue of Our Lady of Bolton. The chapel in which it stood has since 1923 served as the Regimental Chapel of the Durham Light Infantry.

The author of The Rites describes the statue thus:

' It was made to open with gimmers, from the breast downwards, and within was painted the image of our Saviour, finely gilt, holding up His hands, and betwixt His hands a fair and large crucifix, all of gold ; which crucifix was to be taken out every Good Friday, and every man crept unto it that was then in the church ; after which it was hung up again within the said image. And every principal day the said image was opened, that every man might see pictured within the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, most curiously and finely gilt ; and both the sides within very finely varnished with green varnish, and flowers of gold, an elegant sight for all be-holders.'

Our Lady of Bolton Pray for us

* The texts of both Our Lady’s Dowry and The Rites of Durham are available online

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