Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Pickering's Medieval Church - Part Two - Our World Tuesday

On the wall of the South Aisle, opposite St. Edmund and Thomas Becket, the first painting depicts the legend of St. Catherine of Alexandria.  Catherine lived during the reign of the Emperor Maxentius (300 – 312) and she was a Christian convert, a daughter of a high ranking family.  When Catherine protested to Maxentius about idol worship she was imprisoned.  She then proceeded to debate with the emperor’s philosophers and converts them to Christianity.  Maxentius was so angry he has the philosophers executed.  Catherine is stripped to the waist and flogged in public but she went back to prison defiant.  The Empress Faustina visited Catherine, and also became a convert, she is killed and Catherine is tortured on a spiked wheel which breaks apart.  (This apparently is where the firework ‘The Catherine Wheel’ got its name.)  Catherine remains unrepentant and is executed.  Note the start of  a banner strip on the right, the majority of it is on the second photo here, plus above the band  paintings between the windows, are three murals that deal with the Virgin Mary.  The first is of her death and she is surrounded by six of the apostles.

The next photo is the wall painting that runs as a banner strip beneath the clerestory windows, the first half is named The Seven Corporal Acts of Mercy, based on Jesus’ words in Matthew Chapter 25, verses 35-37.  as follows:
To feed the hungry.
To give drink to the thirsty.
To give shelter to strangers.
To clothe the naked.
To visit those in prison.
To tend the sick.
To bury the dead. In verse 40 he says “Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”  The second painting between the windows is the burial of Mary and of the legend of Belzeray, the Jewish prince who supposedly jumped astride the coffin and became fixed there.  Only when he repented was he freed by the apostles.  A legend I had never heard of before.
The second half of the banner strip painting represents the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ as follows:
Jesus heals the ear of Malchus, which Peter struck off with his sword when the soldiers came to take Jesus away.
Jesus stands before Pilate, the Roman Governor.
The flogging of Jesus.
Jesus carrying his cross.
The crucifixion, with the Virgin Mary and the disciple John standing beneath the cross.
Jesus’ descent from the cross, lastly the burial of Jesus by his followers.
The last painting between the windows is damaged and its meaning is a bit of a mystery, but it is believed to show Mary’s assumption to heaven.  The possible conclusion to the series is on the north wall, The Coronation of Mary. (Last weeks second wall picture.)
Between the arch spandrels in this last photo is the depiction of the Jaws of Hell, or death, the dragons open mouth.  Before his resurrection Christ visited Hell to minister to lost souls who died without knowing him, Adam is shown holding an apple, the second figure is Eve, and there are two demons in the background. The rays of sunshine at Jesus’ back represent that even in the darkness of Hell, He is The Light of the World.  In the next arch spandrel is the resurrection of Jesus and a soldier looking on falls backwards in amazement and angels look on at Jesus Christ rising in triumph.

Hepplewhite Pulpit

The Roucliffe Effigies

The effigies of Sir David and Dame Margery Roucliffe are located in the chantry chapel built in 1407 in their memory, it is kept apart for private prayer, and is where the clergy say their daily morning and evening prayers.  It is sometimes referred to as the Bruce Chapel, due to the effigies having once been incorrectly identified as those of the Bruces.  The intricately carved door and screen of this chapel are by Alfred Wilson of Pickering (1923).

Chantry Chapel

American Connection
The American Connection: 
On the north wall of the sanctuary there is a memorial to the King family of Pickering, Mary, Robert and Nicholas.  Robert and Nicholas helped and succeeded L’Enfant in surveying Washington D.C.  Brass plaques beneath the tablet are to commemorate the Brotherhood in Arms of 1917, and the alliance during the Great War of England and America in the Red Cross.  These memorials place St. Peter & St. Paul Parish Church very firmly on the American Trail. 

Campanologists planning on visiting this area may be interested to know that St. Peter & St. Paul has a fine peal of eight bells, they were renovated and re-hung in 1986.

Next week:  A Step Back in Time - Pickering's War Weekend - Part one

Find more photo's from around Our World Here


Anonymous said...

Those murals are fascinating!

Rajesh said...

Beautifully painted.

Stewart M said...

Hi there - the amount of work that must have gone into these churches is stunning. I always find it interesting to think about where people got the time - not to mention the money - to build these things. If the Middle Ages really were as bad as we are often told, how come anybody (apart from the Lord of the Manor!) could spare time from just keeping alive to build a church! I'm sure there's a simple answer - I just don’t know what it is!

Stewart M - Australia

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the wonderful tour of a place so rich in history. The murals are most interesting.

hannah said...

What a thoroughly enjoyable post. I'd heard that churches used to be painted inside, but never actually seen this.
A very checkered story. And the church furniture is amazing.

Irene said...

Gorgeous shots .... a beautiful place to visit!

And thanks for visiting my photoblog!


eileeninmd said...

Wonderful post, the murals are just beautiful and amazing. The statues are beautiful too, what a gorgeous church. Great shots.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

I'd love t see those "in real" but since I probably won't, I really enjoyed the virtual tour. Thanks~

Genie said...

I have fallen in love with your blog. It is so interesting and your photos are wonderful. I decided to go back to this point to start commenting. Pickering’s Church is gorgeous. Love the pulpit, and the murals are amazing. This was such a nice post. genie

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