Thursday, 1 October 2015


 Today we had occasion to motor up to Lowestoft. On the way we made a small detour to go and have a look at the 'Wenhaston Doom'.  Photo above is of Wenhaston Church.

The photograph above is of the Wenhaston Doom. It was painted a few years either side of the year 1500, to fill the chancel arch of the church, but probably in 1547 ( and in response to an injunction of King Edward VI) the rood screen was whitewashed and painted over.  In 1892 the East end of Wenhaston Church underwent much reconstruction. The whitewashed doom was removed plank by plank  and the wooden boards thrown out into the churchyard to await destruction, but in the night there was heavy rain, so that in the morning parts of the painting was decipherable through the now watered down whitewash.  Specialist Art Historians were summoned and the doom eventually made a spectacular appearance at Burlington House, under the auspices of the Society of Antiquaries, where it 'excited much interest'.

If these photoes are enlarged much detail can be seen. Sinners are seen being weighed in the balance, and some can be seen being thrown into the jaws of Hell to the right of the doom. It is (briefly) the Day of  Judgement being pictured.

 The sword bearer to the right of the above picture is thought to be the Archangel Michael. The group on the left are thought to be Saint Peter, a King, a Bishop, a Cardinal, and a Queen. These can be identified by their head dresses (being otherwise starkers, as are all the other resurrected human sinners, everyone being equal on Judgement Day).

Above is the Arch Angel Michael with a sword, facing the old gentleman, Satan, with a sinner being weighed in the balance.


To the right of the above picture are the jaws of Hell.  The words below the pictures are based on on the first few verses of chapter 13 of Saint Paul's Epistle to the Romans.  They are, of course from an earlier version of the Bible than the Authorised Version of 1611.

The last time I went to see the Wenhaston Doom, in the late 1970s, I was on my way back from the funeral of a Great Aunt of mine who'd lived in Southwold, and I had daughter Ruth with me, who was then preparing to take a degree in Art History. We made a slight detour to Wenhaston, and she was amazed to see the Doom, a piece of (at latest) 15th/16th century English art (folk art). She couldn't understand why she had not been made aware of this very important piece of art history by her tutors. I really couldn't enlighten her on that, but I was glad to have been able to introduce her to it.


Back to today - after Wenhaston had a late lunch at Wangford, then on to Lowestoft, where we'd not been for some decades. Great chunks of it now have all the charm of a badly worn bombsite.


On to Bungay where I was able to purchase a horn snuffbox and a large sword needing T.L.C., which it will probably receive this winter.  

               Now nearly 9.30 p.m.  so - Goodnight everyone.


Crowbard said...

As I found it tricky to read much of the text on the painted Hell, I checked the First Book of Common Prayer: Set Forth by Authority of Parliament in the Reign of King Edward the Sixth (1549) and noted the following on page 79:-

The fourth Sunday after Epiphany.
After The Collect:-
The epistle. Rom. xiii.
“Let every soul submit himself unto the Authority of the higher powers: for there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth power resisteth the ordinance of God: but they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not fearful to them that do good, but to them that do evil. Wilt thou be without fear of the power? Do well then, and so shalt thou be praised of the same; for he is the minister of God for thy wealth. But and if thou do that which is evil, then fear; for he beareth not the sword for nought, for he is the Minister of God, to take vengeance upon him that doeth evil.”
While much of this appears on the Hell, I suspect there may be some differences. I believe there was a second publication in 1552.
Perhaps I should have checked the Bishop’s Bible of 1568 (sourced from Erasmus, the Vulgate, Luther, Zurich, the Masoretic text & the Textus Receptus). A little research into Tyndale, Taverner & Leo Jud’s Bibles might prove efficacious.

Rog said...

I cycled to Wangford on Sunday - didn't quite make Southwold. But I did find a lovely little church this side of the A12 at Uggeshall - worth a visit. Psalms knapped into the surrounding wall in Flint

Crowbard said...

I shall have to Google that Rog, sounds interesting. Thanks.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Crowbard. Read the verses in the A.V. and also in the Geneva Version of 1551 (Breeches Bible) and they both seemed very relevant to the scenes shown.

Mike and Ann said...

Hello Rog. We came across Uggleshall Church about a year ago, or just over, and did a blog entry on it. It is, if I've remembered it correctly, a pretty little thatched church. Part of the roof was being rethatched when we were there. As you say - well worth a visit.

Liz said...

I'd never heard of the Wenhaston Doom prior to reading this post. Now I want to go and see it.

Sir Bruin and I went to Lowestoft once. We wished we hadn't bothered.

Mike and Ann said...

It's worth the trip, Liz. It's a mile or so south of Blythburgh, in the lanes on the left of the A12 as you run north. It should be better known than it is.