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St. James' Church - long lost decorations

 

Mr. and Mrs. Deacon have in their possession a two volumed book called A General History of the County of Norfolk. It was printed MDCCCXXIX (1829) in Norwich and London by John Stacy, who also wrote a guidebook to Norwich. It is a collection of pieces, and, curiously, there is very little evidence as to the names of the writers. Perhaps this is because much of the information seems to have been lifted from Blomefield's great work on the county written c. 1742. There is, however, a section on Wilton which seems to be unique, and it contains a very interesting description of a set of wooden panels which were attached to the wall behind the altar. Needless to say, there is no trace of the panels now.

 Mr. and Mrs. Deacon have very kindly allowed me to quote from this work, and the following entry is taken from page 686 in the second volume. The entries in square brackets have been added by me -

 Behind the [communion] table is an old wainscot partition which runs the breadth of the chancel; on a panel of this wainscot are represented two priests kneeling at an altar, with their books before them; on another panel the figure of St. John the Evangelist, with a cup, and a dragon issuing out of it, and on a label In principio erat Verbum [In the beginning was the Word], under him the por­trait of a man kneeling, and this label, Ora pro nobis beate Jacobe [Pray for us St. James]; on a third pannel [sic], the figure of St. John Baptist with a lamb, &c. and a label Ecce Agnus Dei [Behold the Lamb of God]; under him the portraiture of a woman bidding [telling] her beads [rosary], and this label Omnes Sancti Apostoli orate pro nobis [May all the Holy Apostles pray for us]. On the panels by St. John the Evangelist, are the arms of lords Scales, Poinings, Arundel, earl Warren, and St. George.

The Latin references to the intercession of the saints, and the woman with a rosary, all point to a date before the Reformation but it is possible to be a little more exact than this through a lucky chance. The noble lords Poinings, Arundel and Warren come from long-lived families. Warren dated to the Conquest, and Arundel provided a noble Catholic family into modern times. Lord Scales is a different matter. At the start of Richard III, Shakespeare refers to the 'Sun of York'. This was the handsome, but rather badly behaved, Edward IV whose wife, Elizabeth, had a brother Anthony Woodville who became Lord Scales. Richard III chopped his head off in 1483 and so ended the title. Anthony had become very religious in the latter part of his life (1471-1483), and it may be that this carving is a reflection of this. The Barony of Scales had been around for some years before this, but at the moment it looks as if St. James had a fine set of carvings made sometime around 1470 - 1480. The panels seem to have been there still in the early 19th century - has anyone heard what happened to them? Does anyone know why so many peers of the realm should be represented here? Did the people who created the east window know about these panels?

 Dan Jones.

  Last Update: Tuesday 17 April, 2007 13:32
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