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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Edstaston, Shropshire (†Lichfield) Early C.14

The Adoration of the Magi

Adoration/Journey of the Magi, Edstaston, Shropshire

Of the four figures here, the one at the extreme right, holding a very elaborated floriated sceptre, is almost certainly the Virgin Mary, shown wearing a crown identical to those of the three Magi to the left. The Virgin is often crowned in paintings of this subject, but her sceptre is rarer, and the only other on the site to approach this one for decorativeness is the fleur-de-lys rod in the painting of the Virgin and Child at South Newington. Only the left side of the Virgin is visible now, and the Child was presumably held on her lap further right. There is some starry diapering on the background.

Next to the Virgin at the left is one of the Magi, standing under a rounded painted arch and holding a large goblet-like object in red and dull yellow or off-white (it, like everything else in the painting, would have been much clearer and brighter once). The Magus further left, who has yellow hair and wears a robe with a wide V-shaped neck, is easier to see, although his gift has been reduced to a few meaningless patches of dark pigment. He looks left, at the third Magus, but gestures towards the Virgin Mary at the far right. This third Magus, painted above the upper curve of the superimposed stone memorial, also gestures right, holding a bulbous pear-shaped container with a stopper – for frankincense or myrrh, presumably.

So far as quality is concerned, this is the most accomplished of the paintings at Edstaston, and some details, particularly decorative flourishes like the Virgin’s sceptre, have a certain elegance. Two other subjects, St Christopher and St John the Baptist, are at least identifiable, but others are very confused and obscure now. But Edstaston has many other medieval features of interest, including some fascinating early figure carving.

Website for St Mary the Virgin, Edstaston