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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Slapton, Northamptonshire (†Peterborough) C.14

St Eloi Shoeing a Possessed Horse

St Eloi & the possessed horse/St Anne teaching the Virgin to read, Slapton

St Eloi’s encounter with the possessed horse is described in detail on the page for the subject at Wensley in North Yorkshire. Briefly, the intractable horse was brought to Eloi for shoeing, all previous attempts to do so having failed. Eloi removed the animal’s leg, shod it, and fixed it back in place. The horse itself stands (on three legs), before what seems to be a doorway, probably intended for the entrance to Eloi’s smithy. Eloi himself, in mitre and chasuble (he became bishop of Noyon in France), is at the far left, holding the horse’s leg in his left hand. He is otherwise working with a hammer at an anvil, painted in gold.

Further left stands a figure in a short robe who may be an assistant, displaying an unidentifiable V-shaped object, also shown in gold. This may be some blacksmithing tool, or it may allude, along with the golden anvil, to Eloi’s earlier career as a goldsmith at the courts of King Clotar 11 and Dagobert 1. Although there is no certain attribution, some pieces of goldsmith’s work said to have been made by the saint, particularly a chalice which disappeared during the French Revolution, are known from drawings.

At the upper right is an entirely separate subject, St Anne teaching the Virgin to read, with the young Virgin standing or kneeling beside her seated mother. This will have a page of its own in due course, since examples of it are few and far between, but there is another one on this site now, at Corby Glen in Lincolnshire.

Most of the many other paintings at Slapton are now on the site. They are the Annunciation, the Suicide of Judas, the Mass of St Gregory, St Francis Receiving the Stigmata, the Weighing of Souls, St Christopher and the Warning Against Idle Gossip. There are a few more still to come.

Website for Slapton church