Monday, 11 February 2019

Pictures from Mercia

Yes, I've been on my travels again. This is the 'Breedon Angel', an Anglo-Saxon carving – one of many – from the extraordinary church of Ss Mary and Hardulph, Breedon-on-the-Hill. This tall but oddly truncated building – the surviving chancel and crossing tower of something much bigger – stands high on a sudden, dramatic bluff, visible for miles around on the Leicestershire side of the Derby-Leicester border.
  As well as its rich array of Saxon carvings, the church has a grand collection of (mostly Elizabethan) monuments to members of the Shirley family. This is a view of part of a massive two-storey monument to various of them.
Beneath the kneeling figures, praying under decorative arches, lies something very different – a memento mori in the stark form of a skeleton. This one is clearly not based on close anatomical observation, but it is no less effective for that. 
A very much more naturalistic skeleton lies behind and slightly above a shrouded cadaver in the extraordinary monument – simultaneously grand and gruesome – in St Peter, Edensor (Derbyshire), to the brothers William and Henry Cavendish, who died in 1625 and 1616 respectively. The skeleton, dimly visible in the shadows here, represents Henry, the cadaver William.
These figures sit (or rather lie) very oddly in a vast monument that is otherwise all lofty Renaissance grandeur, a work at the cutting edge of monumental fashion. Here's a better view of Henry...
And here's a general view of the whole darned thing, which covers an entire wall and reaches up to the roof.