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Censing Angels & painted background : Brent Eleigh, Suffolk (‡St.Edmundsbury & Ipswich) Late C.13

Also at Brent Eleigh:Crucifixion with Mary & John    Harrowing of Hell

Photo:T.Marshall Censing Angels, Brent Eleigh [60KB]

On the left of the altar wall, and to the left of the painted Crucifixion at Brent Eleigh was once a statue, almost certainly of the Virgin Mary (to whom the church is dedicated), probably with the Christ Child in her arms. The statue has gone, leaving only an outline of the lower part of the figure and the pedestal supporting it, but the painted background, with two angels censing the statue, remains. The background itself was once bright turquoise, ‘powdered’ with gold stars in appliqué gilt, but these too had gone when this and the other paintings were discovered under whitewash in 1960. All three paintings were restored by Pamela Wedgwood, whose notes on the paintings are included in the excellent booklet available in the church and on which I have drawn heavily here.¹ This painting, like the Harrowing of Hell on the right of the central Crucifixion probably dates from the second half of the 13th century and is thus somewhat earlier than the early 14th century Crucifixion itself.
The two angels kneel, and the censer of the angel on the left is still visible, swinging inverted in the air just above the angel’s elegantly turned-back, angular wrist. Pamela Wedgwood remarks that these details are in accord with ‘the conventions established at Westminster in the second half of the 13th century’.¹ Certainly this, like the Crucifixion, is no rustic or ‘provincial’ painting.
Paintings of events in the life of the Virgin are listed and linked in the table on the Introduction page.

¹ Canon John Fitch, MA, Brent Eleigh, An Illustrated History and Guide, 1986, pp.11-12

St. Anne teaching the Virgin to read, Corby Glen, Lincs St. Anne & Virgin/Miracles of Virgin, Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks Annunciation/Visitation, Ashampstead, Berkshire Annunciation, Barnby, Suffolk
Annunciation, Chalgrove, Oxon. Annunciation, Little Melton, Norfolk Annunciation, Gisleham, Suffolk Annunciation, Slapton, Northants
Annunciation, Sth. Newington, Oxfordshire Annunciation, Tarrant Crawford, Dorset Annunciation, Martley, Worcestershire Annunciation/Visitation, Faversham, Kent
Annunciation/Visitation/Nativity, Newton Green, Suffolk Annunciation/Visitation, Pinvin, Worcs Annunciation-Fring, Norfolk Visitation, Dale Abbey, Derbys
Visitation, Salisbury (S.Thomas), Wilts. The Burial of the Virgin, Pickering, N.Yorks NEW Death, Burial & Coronation of the Virgin, Sutton Bingham, Somerset Coronation of the Virgin, Black Bourton, Oxon
Background to Statue, with painted angels, Brent Eleigh, Suffolk Virgin Enthroned, with angels, Arundel, Sussex Virgin Enthroned, with donors, Cawston, Norfolk Life of the Virgin, Broughton, Oxon.
Virgin & Child, with wand and apple, South Newington, Oxford Virgin & Child, with sceptre & orb(?), Wickhamford, Worcs. Virgin suckling the Christ Child, Beckley, Oxon. Virgin suckling the Christ Child, Belchamp Walter, Essex
Death, Burial, Assumption & Coronation of the Virgin, Chalgrove, Oxfordshire Virgin intervening at the Weighing of Souls, Lathbury, Buckinghamshire The Annunciation/St Anne teaching the Virgin to read, Chapel of Our Lady of Bradwell, Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire NEW Virgin & child enthroned/With SS Margaret, Catherine & Mary Magdalene, Little Wenham, Suffolk NEW

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Diocesan Website with contact details for Brent Eleigh church

Anne Marshall 2002