An old friend, but who is he?

Yesterday I drove to York in the snow to my old haunt All Saints, North Street. For those of you who don’t know it All Saints is a glorious little church beside the river Ouse in the heart of the medieval city. It has a vibrant Anglo-Catholic tradition, where mass is offered according to the ‘English Missal’ and I was very pleased to be able to deacon for the high mass for Candlemas. The church has a fine collection of fourteenth and fifteenth century stained glass, and three very glorious late fifteenth century ceilings.

All Saints, North Street, York

All Saints also houses a rather eclectic collection of religious object d’art brought together, in the main, during the fifty year incumbency of Fr Patrick Shaw. Among the interesting pieces he collected is this wooden statue. Until recently this stood on a corbel in front of the rood screen, but it has now been replaced with a resin replica. The figure, which still has traces of polychromy, dates from the fifteenth century and is a rare and important piece of late medieval wood carving. At All Saints this statue is venerated as an image of St William of York, William Fitzherbert, who was archbishop of York from. However, I’m not sure that makes much sense.

All Saints, North Street, York

The vesture of the statue is rather interesting. Over his alb and apparelled amice he wears a pontifical dalmatic and a well-cut chasuble. The chasuble is decorated with a y-shaped orphrey, but he doesn’t appear to have a pallium, so presumably is not an archbishop and therefore not St William of York. Interestingly he doesn’t wear a mitre either, so perhas he a sainted abbot. Also what is that object he is holding in his hands? Sadly this part of the image is rather badly damaged so that is a bit unclear. A chalice or a monstrance perhaps?

All Saints, North Street, York

So who is he? At one point I wondered if this was statue of St Norbert, the founder of the Premonstratensian order, who is usually shown holding a monstrance. However, he was archbishop of Magdeburg for a time. Any other suggestions?

BTW if you fancy buying a resin copy of the statue All Saints seem to be selling them on their website.

One thought on “An old friend, but who is he?

Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: