St Wendreda's Angels

(13 new images taken in 2015)

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All photographs are copyright Malcolm Grant Purvis of and may not be used without permission.


St Wendreda

St Wendreda
St Etheldreda

Queen Etheldreda
'the Devil'?  Prince of Darkness?  or God amongst his angels

The Devil looks down on the congregation to remind them that he is ever present



St Bartholomew with flaying knife and book above musician with shawm


(not sharp - to be replaced)


St Stephen holding the stones of his martyrdom above musician with lute


musician with lute beneath St. Stephen  :  of concern is that the pegs that hold on the wings appear to be missing



musician with clarion beneath St James the Great with his pilgrim's staff





4th pillar north side : St John blessing cup and serpent

centre figure, north side : St John blessing the poisoned chalice : the dragon's head can just be seen above the rim of the cup

Saint John the Evangelist is depicted holding a chalice, an allusion to his being put to the test by the high priest of the Temple of Diana at Ephesus. The high priest said to him: "If you want me to believe in your god, I will give you some poison to drink and, if it does not harm you, it means that your god is the true God." Thus Saint John is depicted making the gesture of blessing which was to neutralize the poison escaping from the chalice in the form of a small two-headed dragon. He was then able to drink the potion, according to the legend.

This legend was a favourite subject for Rennaisance painters.

the serpent's head emerging from St John's cup

Different traditions describe this as serpent, two-headed serpent or dragon. Here, seen from the Ringing Chamber, we have the dragon emerging from the cup.


Sir Anthony Hansart with scroll Catherine, 1st wife to Anthony Hansart
High in the darkness of the corners at the west end of the church were thought to be the benefactors Anthony Hansart (L) and, what  was believed to be,
 his second wife Alice (R), allegedly 'looking down on the tomb of first wife, Katherine Southewell.

However: the figure at right holds up what it believed to be Cardinal Wolsey's indulgence (i.e. permission) either for the  building of the road to Doddington or for building of the angel roof itself.
As for the figure on the left:, clearly it cannot be a Alice. It has identical male dress, cap and hair. Furthermore it is giving a blessing, therefore it must be priest.

The mis-identification is understandable as, in situ, the figure is so dark that it is virtually impossible to see these details.

The unfurled scroll he holds is a dedication, common on brasses (see the Hansart brass), although in wood they generally don't have an inscription.

As there is provenance that the indulgence is from Cardinal Wolsey (seen on the wall behind the font), the most likely candidate for scroll and blessing must be Cardinal Wolsey himself.


Queen Etheldreda

Queen Etheldreda


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this page launched 13th April 2015 : last modified 6th November 2015