Skip to Content

Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Dale Abbey (†Derby) Early C. 14?

The Visitation

Visitation, Dale Abbey

This very tenderly-realised painting of the encounter between the Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth is in the small-windowed 12th century church. The ruins of Dale Abbey itself, now reduced to the arch of the great East Window, are visible from the churchyard. Apart from a fragment visible at the right (possibly the Annunciation or a Nativity Scene), this is the only painting now left in the church. Others may well have been lost when the roof was lowered in about 1480, but the Visitation is rather low down on the wall, and was unaffected. It is hard to absolutely certain, but I think the Virgin herself is the figure on the right, being greeted by Elizabeth.

Visitation, Dale Abbey, detail

At the time this painting was probably made, the Abbey was occupied by Premonstratensian canons. Since the Visitation is a high-quality work, it may have been commissioned by the canons, or perhaps even painted by one of their number. Some of Dale Abbey’s fine 15th century stained glass is now in the parish church at Morley, about three miles to the north-west.