Pre-Reformation Devotional Images of Our Lady

Anwick, Lincolnshire

This glorious fragment of sculpture was discovered in 1879 walled up within Anwick church in Lincolnshire. It is a remarkable survival. It is a seated figure of the Virgin and Child, dating from the early years of the fourteenth century. Sadly it has faired badly at the hands of iconoclasts, who have removed the head and much of the body of the Christ Child. Given its treatment it was presumably used as a devotional image. It is remarkable in that it has retained a large percentage of its original polychromy, giving a wonderful glimpse of the vibrant colouring that was typical of devotional images in this period. Lawrence OP has a photograph of a modern image of Our Lady, based on a fifteenth century precedent, which gives some sense of the form and vibrancy lost in the Anwick example.

Our Lady at Dorchester

Down the road from Anwick, at Bigby (well when I say down the road I mean the same county) is another fragment of a similar image of the Virgin and Child. This probably slightly earlier dating from the turn of the thirteenth/fourteenth century.

Bigby, Lincolnshire

As you see it has not faired as well as the Anwick fragment, but is nonetheless an important survival. The figure of the Christ Child seems to be kicking his legs about and reminds me very much of this lively image in glass at East Hagbourne, Berkshire, which is of similar vintage:

East Hagbourne, Berkshire

4 thoughts on “Pre-Reformation Devotional Images of Our Lady

Add yours

  1. Thanks Tom. Yes this a glorious piece of sculpture, what is more it is still in use as a devotional image. Coming soon, the second installment of Pre-Reformation Devotional Images of Our Lady!


  2. Have you read “Image & devotion in Late Medieval England” by Richard Marks. If not then get it immediatly as I cannot recommend it enough!


  3. Hi Tom, Yes I do have ‘Image and Devotion’, and excellent book. In fact I first found out about the Anwick image via the book. It came out while I was doing my PhD under Richard’s supervision.


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