Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Rik George writes

Remembrance Three

Her time was up as spring sent shoots

Of new flowers out of the ground. 
That day I came home and found 
Her body sprawled upon the sheets

Still haunts my sleep. Dark winter comes. 

The cold grave gapes wide in my mind. 
Promising snow before the end 
And ice to chill my troubled dreams.

Perhaps the dead trouble us 

Because the afterlife is lonely 
And spirits weary that they only 
Wander mansions in God’s house

Instead of having a permanent place 

For their weary souls to stay. 
The dead, perhaps, forever stray 
Without the solace of a house.

 Wenhaston Doom, Church of St. Peter, Wenhaston, Suffolk

 [detail] "In my Father's house are many mansions." -- John 14:2

1 comment:

  1. Wenhaston ("Wynhaeth's town"), a village south of the Blyth river in northeastern Suffolk, England, probably dated to the first century, but the oldest written evidence of its existence (as Wenadestuna) was in the Domesday survey of 1086. A "doom" was a common church decoration depicting the Day of Judgment, but most were destroyed either during the during the reign of the Anglican king Edward VI (1547-1553), when the roods in every church in the kingdom were torn down, or a century later during the English Civil War and Oliver Cromwell's Commonwealth period. They were usually painted directly on the wall's plaster, typically in a prominent position, such as at the back of the church so they would be seen by the worshippers as they left the building. The one in St. Peter's church at Wenhaston was painted on wooden panels fixed between the chancel and the nave. The outline where the three wooden figures (John the Baprist, Jesus, and Mary) of the rood were fixed is still visible, as are the nail holes where the rood (wooden cross) itself was fixed; this is why the painted Jesus, seated on a rainbow, is off-center. If there was no chancel arch, or if the chancel was not low enough below the nave to allow a painting, the top of the arch would be infilled with a wooden tympanum. Usually the rood was supported on a rood beam or suspended from the ceiling above the roof loft and rood screen, but the rood group at Wenhaston was attached directly to the tympanum. Since the center of the painting would be obscured by the rood, it has few details. The church itself was associated with Blythburgh Priory, founded in the early 12th century as an offshoot of one in Essex dedicated to St Osyth, whose effigy is under a canopied niche on the right side of the 19th-century wooden chancel arch; three carved stones found under the east window at the time of the 1892 repairs indicates that a Saxon church existed on the site earlier. Construction and refurbishment continued in the 13th and 14th centuries, as indicated by two narrow lancet windows with deeply splayed Romanesque embrasures in the south wall of the nave and early Decorated lancet windows in the north and south walls of the chancel. The nave and tower were built in the late 14th century. Late in the 15th century, an arch-braced collar roof of the nave and a small window above the southeast window of the nave were added; in 1480 a bequest was made for a new screen; since the tympanum would have followed the construction of the screen and rood, then the doom was probably painted between 1500-1520, about a quarter century before it was whitewashed over. When the east end of the church was being refurbished in 1892, the remains of the 15th-century candlebeam were found 3 meters below the roof, still bearing traces of coloring and gilding, and a large arched partition thickly coated with whitewash was found between the position of the old tympanum and the roof. The partition was taken apart and taken outside. They would have probably been burned or perhaps stripped and repainted, but were neglected while other work proceeded insde. Overnight a heavy rain shower washed off some of the layers of whitewash, exposing a portion of panel with parts of the figures Mary and John. Then the boards were carefully washed and the doom was re-assembled. An Elizabethan text was added: "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." [Romans 13:1-4]


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