About Me

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Bristol , United Kingdom
I'm co-director of the Leaping Word Poetry Consultancy, which provides advice for poets on writing, editing and publishing, as well as qualified counselling support for those exploring personal issues in their work - https://theleapingword.com. My fifth poetry collection, Learning Finity, is now available from Indigo Dreams or directly from me.

Sunday 3 July 2016

Balloon Dancing in Hell

With hindsight it was probably an error to try to find a waterfall on the North York Moors by putting its postcode into my sat nav. A particularly amateurish error, in fact.  After ages spent driving in circles around country lanes - reminiscent of the time I got stuck in Sheffield City Centre's one way system, only narrower and steeper - we made a break for it by heading for Pickering instead. But not before I'd spotted a lapwing by the side of the road, which cheered me up a bit. (No photo, I was driving.)

Pickering's best treasure is its amazing collection of mediaeval wall paintings in the 12th century Church of St Peter and St Paul. They date from the mid-15th century and were rediscovered under whitewash in 1852.  The then vicar was of the same mind as the zealots who covered them over in the first place during the Reformation, and had them whitewashed over again.  They remained hidden until 1876, when a new vicar, Rev G Lightfoot, had them uncovered and restored. 

A quick guided tour, then:

First, St George vanquishing the Dragon

Next to him stands the Hermit from the story of St Christopher, holding up his lantern in  Light Of The World sort of way ...

... and St Christopher himself, with his precious cargo

The Beheading of John the Baptist

The Coronation of the Virgin Mary

The Martyrdom of St Edmund, who was shot full of arrows and then beheaded for refusing to renounce his faith ...   
Heaven blys to hys mede, Hem sall have for his gud ded

... with a scene from the Martyrdom of St Thomas Becket above

A closer look at St Thomas? Don't mind if I do. 

An overall view of the paintings on the north wall of the nave

Continuing clockwise, on the south side of the nave, a very detailed depiction of the story of St Catherine, including her torture on a spiked wheel and her unrepentant wait for her execution

Next, what the guide book calls The Seven Corporeal Acts of Mercy. These run as a band beneath the clerestory windows and are hard to photograph in any way that gives more than a general impression.

These are followed by the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ, in a similar format.

Above the bands between the windows are the forerunners of the painting of the Coronation of the Virgin Mary, showing her burial and her assumption into heaven. You'll have to imagine them, I'm afraid. 

A close-up of the Descent into Hell (my favourite)

As Dru said, a balloon dance in hell.

And finally, Christ's Resurrection

I also especially loved the font, the top part of which is believed to be Saxon. A thousand years later, it's still in use.  It is believed to have been damaged in 1644, when an attempted demolition, presumably by Roundheads, was recorded.  
From Pickering we headed for Robin Hood's Bay and made our way down the famously steep road to the quay, stopping off to look down the quirky side streets. 

A wander along the beach and back, a sombre drink at the top of the hill before heading back to Whitby - another post Brexit day in Yorkshire ... 

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