Monday, October 06, 2008

awards, talks… and why blue?

Current work: articles/nonfic
Listening to: Bach
Reading: Robert Goddard, Name to a Face (not bad – my ears pricked up at the beginning when Sir Cloudesley Shovell was mentioned, as he’s local, but that was a red herring. Wasn’t bad (nice way of spending a Sunday morning, with sheeting rain outside) but my favourites of his are still Past Caring, In Pale Battalions, Painting the Darkness and Hand In Glove. If you’re new to Goddard, you’ll enjoy it; if you’re not… it’s not bad, but sadly not in the same league as my favourites.)

Busy weekend. Friday, visited Dad; Saturday was running errands (I was going shopping in town, but I think DH might’ve been reading my blog as he insisted on accompanying me). Jarrolds has a lovely display of the East Anglian Awards shortlisted books. (Mine’s top left.)

And Borders had a poster for my talk at the end of the month.

Spent the afternoon doing location shots for various books. There's a fabulous wall painting of St Christopher at Paston – this is a detail, but from top to toe it’s most of the height of the wall.

Came across something very interesting at Wroxham: a Norman doorway that had been stained blue in the 19th century.

Very interesting carving, too. (Apologies for the purple fringing.)

What I can’t find out is who added the blue stain and why. It’s not mentioned in the church guidebook, or Pevsner, or Mortlock (or even by Simon Knott, who is INCREDIBLY knowledgeable, as well as having a writing style I enjoy thoroughly). So if anyone can satisfy my curiosity, please do!


Jan Jones said...

Perhaps the blue was a mistake at the time and no-one has liked to mention it since?

And very fab displays of books and poster indeed!

Anonymous said...

All I can find is that the panel, according to my sources was built in 1623 with Dutch influences. So perhaps the Dutch used to stain their churches to tell the difference between Protestant and Catholic? James I (James IV of Scotland) was the king at the time, and didn't like non-conforming Catholics, so maybe he followed the Dutch example.

Of course, if it is Norman, then I have no clue. I'm American, I barely know American history (according to the schools here anyways. but what do they know?) Though I must admit I find English, and Celtic, history a million times more fascinating-it's like reading a fantasy novel the further back you go!

Melissa Marsh said...

Oooh! I think there's a story brewing somewhere about that blue stain...

Kate Hardy said...

Jan - that's a v interesting theory :o) And thanks for the compliment.

Kate Hardy said...

Lou - thanks for the thought, but the door dates from the 11th/12th century... way before Protestantism came in. And the staining was done during the 19th century. I'm just intrigued about who did it and why.

Churches were very bright inside during the medieval period, with lots of paintings - many were damaged/painted over during the Reformation and the rows continued between Protestant/Catholic views from Edward VI through to Bloody Mary and Elizabeth. And then of course you have the Puritans and William Dowsing, who kept a journal of the churches he... well, vandalised, in my opinion (!), but he was doing his job at the time.

And because the paintings were covered over, when the church was altered/restored some of them were damaged because the builders/restorers didn't know they were there. There's a nice story about Wenhaston church in Suffolk about some wood being thrown outside during restoration work. During the night it rained, and the water dissolved the whitewash; so the next morning the restorers found this incredible painting waiting for them. (Link is - Simon Knott also has a site on Norfolk churches which is utterly fantastic.)

Kate Hardy said...

Melissa - great minds have similar lightbulbs :o)

Simon Knott said...

Hi Jan - thanks for your very kind words about my site. I think I must have been in a bad mood at Wroxham, because I didn't get inside. If the paint is 19th century, then it was probably as part of a restoration - there was a general awareness among the Victorians that medieval stonework was often coloured. Under the circumstances, it doesn't seem an unreasonable thing to have done, but on the other hand why is it not found elsewhere? If it is a little earlier, there was an 18th century fashion for decorating medieval stonework - a good example is at Theberton in Suffolk, where the arcades are decorated, and also at Threxton in Norfolk.

It is not a particularly good entry on my site - I must go back to Wroxham and have another look!



Simon said...

Oops - sorry Kate!

Just noticed I called you Jan in the previous comment by mistake - that's partly because the comment at the top of this page is by someone called Jan, and partly because I'm trying to get tea ready at the same time, and men can't multitask...


Kate Hardy said...

Simon, thanks so much for stopping by. Not sure if it's 18th- or 19th-century paint at Wroxham; though, as you say, very odd that it isn't found elsewhere. Thanks for the tip re Theberton and Threxton - will go hunting.

As for men and multitasking: I shall maintain a discreet silence! (And I stand by every word I say about your site. It's fascinating, and I like your writing style.)