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Lenham, Kent (‡Canterbury) : Weighing of Souls, Late C.14

[Photo:T.Marshall]

St. Michel weighing souls, Lenham, Kent (204KB)


This painting, on the south wall at Lenham, must have been a striking example of the subject when it was first painted, but it is a very dilapidated and faint state now. St. Michael stands centrally, his folded wings extended to the left while he himself looks rightwards towards the intervening Virgin, who has now totally disappeared. Otherwise, only the balance-bar, slanting across his body along with faint traces of the two scale-pans, that on the right much lower than that on the left, and a loop of reddish beads, held out by the Virgin and draped over the balance-bar, remain. There are traces of a red devil trying to weigh down the lefthand scale-pan, but the figure of the Virgin herself has gone completely, apart from a few incoherent traces of pigment at the right.

Fortunately, JC Wall included his own drawing of this painting in his modest book of 1925¹, and this drawing is reproduced at the right here. Comparison of the painting then, complete with three meddling devils, one blowing a horn, with its greatly reduced state now, should be instructive. As so often, a great pity, but the earlier 20th century was not a propitious time for English Wall Paintings.

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¹ JC Wall, Medieval Wall Paintings, (Talbot press) p.191

Woman Donor, Doom at North Cove
Ashampstead, Berkshire Attleborough, Norfolk (Christ in Majesty) Bacton, Suffolk Bartlow, Cambridgeshire (Weighing) Beckley, Oxfordshire Bishopsbourne, Kent (Weighing)
Blyth, Nottinghamshire Bradfield, Norfolk Broughton, Bucks. Broughton, Cambs Catherington, Hampshire (Weighing) Chelsworth, Suffolk
Chesterton, Cambs. Corby Glen, Lincs Coventry (Holy Trinity Church), Warwickshire Croughton, Northants (Weighing) NEW Dauntsey, Wiltshire NEW Flamstead, Herts.
Great Harrowden, Beds Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire Houghton Conquest, Beds (Christ in Majesty) Ickleton, Cambs. Lenham, Kent (Weighing) NEWMarston Moreteyne, Beds
Marton, Cheshire Newington-next-Sittingbourne, Kent North Cove, Suffolk Oddington, Gloucestershire Pickworth, Lincs Potter Heigham, Norfolk
Rotherfield, E.Sussex (Doom) Rotherfield, E. Sussex (Weighing) Salisbury, Wilts Slapton, Northants (Weighing) South Leigh, Oxon (Doom)
South Leigh, Oxon (Weighing) Stoke-by-Clare, Suffolk Stratford-On-Avon, the Guild chapel, Warwickshire NEW Wenhaston, Suffolk West Somerton, Norfolk Widford, Herts
Wissington, Suffolk Yaxley, Suffolk

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©Anne Marshall, February 26 2012