Brent Eleigh, Suffolk (†St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) Late C.13
Censing Angels and Background to a Statue of the Virgin
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.
Also at Brent Eleigh: Crucifixion with Mary and John and The Harrowing of Hell
Website for Brent Eleigh Church
¹ Canon John Fitch, MA, Brent Eleigh, An Illustrated History and Guide, 1986, pp.11-12