Monday, 14 July 2014

Fruits of Righteousness

Tuesday 8th July

The humble strawberry: delicious summer fruit, often paired with cream, inextricably linked with Wimbledon? All of these are correct but in church art they are also the symbol of perfect righteousness.

This interesting discovery was made during our annual summer outing to Towneley Hall in Burnley and the source was the exquisite Whalley Abbey vestments.  These are beautifully preserved examples of Opus Anglicanum and were made between 1415 and 1430.  The main cope is covered in bright red strawberries that look as if they were only embroidered yesterday not 600 years ago!  The vestments also have delicate figures stitched in luminescent silver and silk, the faces simply glow.  They must have had a profound effect on the congregation.
The guided tour around the house was fascinating and peppered with anecdotes of the Towneley family.  The museum also houses an art gallery with an impressive collection of romantic Victorian and pre-Raphaelite paintings.  Well worth a trip 'over the border' into Lancashire.

Group photo: Sue Sissling

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