Monday, 25 August 2014

Langford, Oxfordshire

There are a lot of churches with amazing stuff in this area, and the wandering artist has such a wealth of choice. However, it being bank holiday, the weather here was firmly against us. And this was a shame at Langford, because all the choicest sculpture is outside. Now a truly committed wanderer should have one of these, a WeatherWriter (TM). Ohh yess it's at the top of my christmas list. But even with one of those it'd have been no fun drawing with water dripping down our faces. So we dove into the large church and hoped the rain would go away (it didn't).

Over the porch doorway there's a Saxon carving of poor old Jesus on the cross. That would be bad enough, but the chap's got to suffer the indignity of having been put back together wrong. The carving has obviously been moved at some point by some cowboy builders who weren't paying attention. That or they thought it'd be a laugh.

We stood there in the rain trying to get our hands into the position that Jesus has got his - it's not possible to transpose your thumbs to the other side of your hand though. So his arms are definitely on the wrong sides of his body.
And to add insult to injury, the two figures accompanying him are looking away from him. The one on the right looks like they're whistling and pretending they're somewhere else. The church guide says they are Mary and St John. But neither of them look particularly female? Mary and John do accompany Jesus in various depictions of the crucifixion though.

With the power of photoshop at hand, how could I leave my photo of this travesty unfiddled with? So here we have it - I unveil to you - the original arrangement of this carved scene. Okay so it's not a brilliant effort as all the shadows are too much bother. But you get the general idea.

The church guide makes the interesting point that in this depiction, Jesus has got a bare chest. This makes the carving later (c. 1020-1040) than the stupendous one that is round the corner. The huge 'rood' of the Headless Jesus shows him wearing a neat robe. This is thought to date it to 700-800AD. Which is like madly ancient. In fact it's got to be amongst the oldest things we've seen.

The fact that he's missing his head only adds to the peculiarness of coming across this huge sculpture.

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