Three local beauties


This face is from a 15th century brass memorial set in the aisle of the church at Sandon. She is elegantly beautiful and that elegance is achieved with so few lines – you can count the number of strokes. She brings to mind ancient eastern Mediterranean imagery. I would say that she reminds me of a Picasso face but it should, of course, be the other way round.


I return to my favourite Hertfordshire farm girl, a medieval Madonna surrounded by the birds of her fields and hedgerows and immortalised at the church at Clothall. She must have brought the religion preached to the villagers closer to them than a more sophisticated rendition ever could.


This image is troubling. The doll’s head is pretty. Yes, it promotes a stereotype but it is not aggressively sexualised. Prior to its decay, the torso – presumably from a generic piece of garden centre ornamentation – was intended to be mildly erotic but nothing to outrage your grandmother or over excite your grandfather. Yet the combination, seen at the recycling centre at Letchworth, is disturbing.

4 thoughts on “Three local beauties

    1. That’s fascinating David. Thanks for the link. I’m particularly intrigued by the reference to the palsy. However, I would note that the praying (?) hands are a common feature of representations of the Virgin. Either way, she’s a lovely unassuming girl and I’m a little smitten by her.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I agree that she’s very appealing (partly because she’s not conventionally ‘beautiful’). I wouldn’t say her hands are in an attitude of prayer; it looks more as if she’s wringing them penitentially, which would be appropriate if she’s Mary Magdalene.


    1. I take your point that it could be hand wringing. On the other hand, Mary Magdalene was very often represented with a jar of ointment to identify her and this Mary doesn’t have one. The excellent Hertfordshire churches website seems to accept her as the Virgin and the church is St Mary’s rather than St Mary Magdalene. The entry in British history calls the church St Mary the Virgin. That said, it also speaks of a 13th century hospital in the parish named after Mary Magdalene. But regarding the window it ducks the question and just refers to a ‘female saint’.

      Liked by 1 person

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