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St.Christopher, Thurlton, Norfolk ( Norwich) mid C.15

Photo:T.Marshall St. Christopher, Thurlton [31KB]
This mid-to-late 15th century painting is now very faint, but it is a good example of the latest development of the subject before the English Reformation. There is a great solidity about the central figure of Christopher, but at the same time a great freedom and fluency of line that looks forward to the Renaissance rather than backwards to the careful and sometimes rather stiff poses of earlier examples. For this reason I think is later than the early 15th century date assigned to it by HC Whaite.¹

The adjacent window makes details difficult to see (and photograph), but the most interesting thing about this St. Christopher is the group of swimming creatures around his feet. The sole or plaice (bottom, centre) is found quite frequently, and above that is a large fish with multiple fins or St. Christopher, Thurlton, detail, dolphins & fish [19KB] spines, of a general type also commonly found. Additionally, though, there are what seem to be three bottle-nosed dolphins, the clearest at the top, facing left, and two, others, one large and one small, at the right beyond Christopher’s leg. The clearest of them is shown again in enlarged detail below right here.

Dolphins may have appeared in medieval bestiaries, but these are so well and realistically drawn that they were quite possibly observed and drawn from life, since Thurlton is only a few miles from the east coast. St. Christopher, Thurlton, detail, dolphin [29KB]

¹ HC Whaite, St. Christopher (see Bibliography)

Follow the links below for individual picture and text pages - in page heading = Diocese

Ashby St Ledgers, Northants NEW Belton, Suffolk Burnham Overy, Norfolk Cottered, Hertfordshire East Wellow, Hants
Edingthorpe Norfolk Fritton, Norfolk Haddiscoe, Norfolk Hemblington, Norfolk Impington, Cambridgeshire
Irstead, Norfolk Layer Marney, Essex Littlebourne, Kent Martlesham, Suffolk Molesworth, Northants
Oaksey, Wilts Paston, Norfolk Pickering, N. Yorks Raunds, Northants Shorwell, Isle of Wight
Slapton, Northants Stoke Dry, Rutland Thurlton, Norfolk Wickhampton, Norfolk Willingham, Cambridgeshire
Woodeaton, Oxon

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Anne Marshall 2001