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The Crucifixion, with Mary & John : Bapchild, Kent (‡Canterbury) Late C.14

Photo:T.Marshall Crucifixion, with Mary & John (retable), Bapchild (57KB)
In 1936 Arthur Mee called this painting, on the east wall of the north chancel aisle, ‘a beautiful thing fading away’¹, and despite careful conservation since then it has continued to do so. It nevertheless deserves a better photograph than this rather unsatisfactory one and I will try to replace it.

Christ hangs on the Cross in the centre, with Mary at the left and John the Evangelist, gesturing towards the Cross and holding a book in his left hand, at the right. Beyond these two figures, on either side, is a larger-scale angel, each of which holds a rectangular object - these are perhaps also books, as Tristram thought, although I am uncertain about this.
The painting must once have served as an altarpiece, and it is probable, since the north chancel aisle is the earliest part of the church, that this was once the High Altar, below the then main east window. The quality of the work², which will bear comparison with that at Brent Eleigh in Suffolk, (although the Bapchild example is later), also suggests that.

There are one or two other fragments of painting, but apart from three consecration crosses, all are post-medieval.

¹A.Mee, The King’s England : Kent, 2nd edn., 1969, p.24
²Tristram 11, pp.503-4, plates 145a & b, where that quality is more evident than it is in this photograph

Crucifixion, with Mary & John, Bapchild, Kent Crucifixion with 2 Thieves, Barnby, Suffolk Crucifixion with Mary & John, Brent Eleigh, Suffolk Crucifixion, painted on pillar, Broughton, Oxon Christ crucified on a lily, Godshill, Isle of Wight Crucifixion with Mary & John, Goxhill (nr.Immingham) Lincs
Background to Rood Group, with angels, Kingston, Cambridgeshire Crucifixion, Little Missenden, Bucks NEW Crucifixion with Mary & John, Turvey, Beds. Crucifixion, with Penitent Thief, Wisborough Green, Sussex

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Anne Marshall 2002 5/3/13