The church at Clifton Campville: lordship and community 12th and early 13th centuries

Figure 6: Wall painting on south wall of south transverse chapel

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Figure 6:

Wall painting on south wall of south transverse chapel,

from the time of William Camville – c.1308 to c. 1338
This reconstruction by Tristram, who uncovered and studied the wall painting in the 1930s, shows the picture in greater clarity than can be seen in the actual painting today.
The picture shows the coronation of the Virgin, the stars indicating that it took place in heaven. The figure of Christ is in the centre, with his left hand on an orb and his right hand raised in blessing. The crowned Virgin is seated, with her hands raised in prayer. Her face has been obscured by the later addition of an armorial shield showing the arms of the Vernon family. It seems likely that this would have been added after the Reformation, when the Virgin was no longer to be venerated. Tristram has shown the Virgin’s hands and the cross on top of the orb but in fact these features were not visible after the heraldic shields had been painted on top of the original picture.
The kneeling figure on the right of the picture could well be Maud and the corresponding figure on the left could be her husband, Richard Vernon. It was customary for the donors of a picture to be portrayed in this manner.
The wall painting [see Fig. 6] shows the coronation of the Virgin, with Christ in the centre and the crowned Virgin at his right hand. The figures kneeling on each side are presumably the donors. The woman could well be Maud: she is shown wearing a typical head-dress of the early 14th century. The other figure could be Maud’s husband, Richard Vernon. He is depicted as a knight wearing armorial ailettes on his shoulders. (Ailettes were part of a knight’s attire usually dated to between c.1275 and c.1350.29) A study of the painting in 1961 suggested that the ailettes are painted with the fretty pattern of the Vernon arms [see Fig. 7].30 This figure is unlikely to be Maud’s son as, if he was the Richard who died in 1323, he appears to have died before he was twenty so would probably not have attained the status of a knight. It therefore seems plausible that the painting could have been commissioned by Maud and her husband, Richard Vernon the elder, perhaps following the death of their son, the young Richard, in 1323. If the Richard who died in 1323, however, was Maud’s husband, then perhaps Maud commissioned it in his memory. Another possibility is that she commissioned it after her father, William, died in 1337/38, in gratitude for her inheritance: the manor stayed in the Camville family, albeit through the female line. The two shields [see Fig. 7] which were added later to the painting (see section on The 16th century, below) show the Vernon arms on the left and, possibly, the Camville arms on the right.31 As one of them is painted on top of the Virgin’s face, it seems probable that these were not added until after the Reformation.

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