Saturday 19 November 2022

The box of delights.

 I have, of course, shamelessly copied the title of the book by John Masefield for this blog title, but this box is of a rather different nature. Back in 2018 we travelled over to the local hamlet of Shipley to pay a visit to the church of St Mary the Virgin. On that occasion I was in pursuit of a rumoured standing stone and a couple of bonkers carvings that I'd got wind of I didn't make any mention of the Medieval reliquary facsimile it had on display so I guess I wasn't aware of it at the time. Subsequently I learnt that the original box had been stolen in 1976 and had not been seen since. Thankfully I am delighted to report that in the last year the story has moved forward as the current owners recognised what they had in their possession. They had no idea how it had been obtained and have very generously returned it to the church. It's a rare survivor and much smaller that it looks in the pictures.

Despite the church from which it came being one of the Knight's Templar ones [rebuilt by them in 1139] and the reliquary being contemporary c1200 it's not believed that it was in its ownership as there's no mention of any such item on the inventory of 1308. It would have been made to house the holy relics of somebody very important. Unfortunately for us the knowledge of that individual for whom it was intended has not come down to us. The oak carcase is covered in the stunning Limoges enamelwork which was very popular for its bold colours and intricate designs between 1100-1350 when it was at the height of production. The effect was created by the design being etched into copper plates [later attached to the wood]. Where colour was needed there were troughs added into which a paste of glass powder and water was pushed. To set the enamel it was then fired at 1000C in a kiln and finished with polish to catch the light. It's on temporary loan to Horsham Museum so I seized my chance to see it today when we escaped down the town for a breather between chores!

There bet you didn't expect a post from me on a Saturday did be honest I hadn't planned to write one either, but the lure of sharing current blog material rather than the backlog of stuff I know I've let pile up and haven't yet dealt with proved just too tempting!



  1. Its beautiful and as always you find these small delights in a rat race world where people often forget to look about. Xxx Mr T and F

  2. I marvel that the color is still do bold after so many centuries.

  3. I did not expect one, but am delighted to see it. What a fascinating process!


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