18 September 2008

Our Lady of Sandford

I'm getting more and more interested in the beautifully preserved and almost unknown Assumpta of Sandford-upon-Thames in Oxfordshire (see earlier posts). The likelihood is that it was taken there from some more prestigious church which possessed a relic of our Lady which could be fitted into the apparently 'reliquary' niche at the bottom. The Powells, the (subsequently) recusant family who had the Manor of Sandford also secured the property of the former Carmelite house at the end of Friars' Entry, opposite S Mary Mags church in Oxford, where Henry VI often stayed.

Does anybody know whether there was anything distinctive about late-medieval Carmelite iconography of our Lady? Or where such info might be sought? Another possibility is that the Sandford Assumpta came from the Dominican House in Oxford, which had its quire rebuilt around 1500, the conjectural date of our carving, and was a site of frenzy-feeding in the 1540s as parish churches in Oxford (little knowing how soon they were themselves to be looted and vandalised) sent labourers to walk off with its goodies.

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