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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

South Newington, Oxfordshire (†Oxford) c.1330

St Margaret and the Dragon

St Margaret and the Dragon, South Newington

Perhaps the most graceful of all the graceful 14th century figures at South Newington, this painting of St Margaret overcoming the dragon that swallowed her is on the wall of the south arcade in the church.

The saint’s green robe is elegantly draped, falling around her in the gentle but sharply delineated curves typical of high-class painting of this date. Margaret, wearing a crown, stands centrally, her long lance aimed at the vanquished dragon, now rather faint but distinguishable lying at her feet at the bottom right. The roughly rectangular and solid-looking object she holds in her hand, her long fingers curved around it, is puzzling, and it does not seem to correspond with anything in the various accounts of her life. It is clearly not her miraculous girdle, with which she led the dragon captive, for example.

Most of the other paintings at South Newington are now on the site. Here are links to The Annunciation, the Martyrdoms of Thomas Becket and Thomas of Lancaster respectively, a very fine Virgin and Child which includes two kneeling donors, probably members of a prominent local family, and a much cruder, but still very appealing, 15th century Passion Cycle.

Website for St Peter ad Vincula, South Newington