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, 20 November 2021

The reredos of All Souls College

Christopher Howse writes with his usual elegant perception about the reredos of the chapel of All Souls College in his regular Sacred Mysteries column in the Daily Telegraph. His article is based on a new book about the towering statue-filled reredos which dates in its origin to the founding of the college by Archbishop Henry Chichele in the 1430s. Howse links this to the dedication of the college and to All Soulstide, but then opens up the story of its restoration in the 1870s - as he points out a typical story of Fellows feuding.

The design of the reredos, as is so much else in All Souls, is derived from New College, and the same ideas were also copied at Magdalen by Bishop Waynefleet.

All Souls chapel also houses two wonderful original fifteenth century statues of King Henry VI and Archbishop Chichele from the High Street exterior. Like the reredos they were once painted and unlike its figures have survived the centuries, and were brought indoors in the early twentieth century. Unfortunately their replacements are very inferior copies indeed.

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