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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Slapton, Northamptonshire (†Peterborough) C.14/15

The Annunciation

The Annunciation, Slapton

One of the simplest, most symbolic types of Annunciation, with the Virgin and the Angel Gabriel standing on either side of a large lily-pot, a frequently found symbol of the Annunciate Virgin (unusually, the pot in this case is an ewer with a handle and a hinged lid, standing open). Two or three tall lilies in it are still detectable.

Gabriel holds a scroll, probably inscribed with suitable words from the Magnificat [Luke 1:28]. Mary’s right hand is raised in surprise or perturbation (the stages of her emotional reaction were important for painters, and there are more details about this on the pages for the Annunciation at Barnby and Little Melton).

The two figures seem to be standing on a golden pavement, and there are other pigmented areas between their heads and at the top edge of the photograph. These may once have filled in the background, showing more of the interior at Nazareth, but it is impossible to be sure now.

The painting is beside the spandrel of an arch, and close to it on other faces of the spandrels are some of the other subjects at Slapton – the Suicide of Judas, the Mass of St Gregory, and St Francis Receiving the Stigmata. Other paintings at Slapton now on these pages are the Weighing of Souls (with the Virgin shown again, intervening on behalf of the potentially damned), St Christopher, the Warning Against Idle Gossip and St Eloi shoeing the possessed horse.

Website for Slapton church