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, 20 December 2021

A medieval Dominican retable from Kent

I was very interested to come across an article from 2018 in the Art Newspaper about the restoration of an early fifteenth century painted English altar retable. 

Known as the Battel Hall retable it is thought to have been painted in about 1410 for the house of Dominican nuns at Dartford - the only instance of a female community of the Order in medieval England. This is a rare survival indeed and not well-known like the one at Thornham Parva in Norfolk. I must admit that I was unaware of its existence until I saw the article.

Vandalised in the years after the suppression of the house and apparently reused as a desk top - and now replete with schoolboy graffiti - it is not documented before 1863, when it was at Battel Hall. Today it forms part of the collection at Leeds Castle in Kent.

The article, which reports on a recent major restoration of the painting, can be seen at Restoration of rare English Medieval altarpiece reveals a history of serial vandalism

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