Sunday, 6 January 2013

A 15th Century Treasure at Torbryan

Nestled in a secluded valley in Devon is a little jewel, Holy Trinity Church at Torbryan.  

Built between 1450 and 1470, this tiny church contains a priceless piece of art, the medieval carved rood screen.



Intricately decorated with portraits of the Saints, this medieval screen managed to escape destruction when a Puritan Rector whitewashed over the paintings. His actions protected them from the elements as well as from zealous reformers.  



As a result, we have the opportunity to travel back in time and see the Saints as they appeared to the faithful congregation in the 1400's.



We may be looking at the faces of some of that congregation.  It was common practise for the artists and stonemasons to use local people as models.  


Many included self portraits in their work.  The actual artist may looking out at us in the guise of a Saint.


This handwritten legend hangs on the wall of the church.  It gives the identity of each Saint according to their iconography.


Here are a few close up views so you can see the details of each portrait.  See if you can identify these Saints.











This wonderful church is maintained by the Churches Conservation Trust and is open to the public free of charge.  Your support and donations will help to preserve churches like Holy Trinity and all their priceless works of art.  



Visit their website to learn more about the Churches Conservation Trust and the churches they work to conserve.  You never know what treasures you might find near you.

8 comments:

  1. Jolies peintures et boiseries.

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    1. It is beautiful and you are looking at faces which are over 500 years old!

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  2. It's a pleasure to see that all these paintings are conserved. There are so many of them just painted over during the centuries!

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    1. I think they were spared because they are in a tiny church in a rural location. I think they are fascinating and beautiful.

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  3. For someone who is totally non-religious, I do love a good church and that looks a cracker!

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    1. It is a charming little church and the rood screen is amazing. Just think of all the generations of people who passed through those church doors! You don't have to be a believer to be spellbound by the experience. : )

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  4. Absolutely beautiful! I never knew that the artists would use local models for their work. Very interesting! Thank you for posting!

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    1. Thank you, Ana. It is a lovely old church and there are so many special places like this all over the U.K. We are so lucky they have survived for so long. That is a miracle in itself.

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