Monday, 29 August 2011

Remember Me

"Remember Me" is finally up and running at Old St Stephens. I have made 48 garlands for virginal girls buried outside the church.Each garland has a unique flower made by me to emphasise their individuality and ribbons, blue hearts and the white paper gloves echo the original garlands. Here are some of them







and here is a list of the girls I made my maidens. The middle column is the age at which they died.

1762 18 Ann STONEHOUSE

1773 20 Mercy STORM

1787 20 Ann MOOR

1772 17 Christian HUNTRODS

1802 14 Mary HUTTON

1804 16 Jane BEDLINGTON

1804 15 Ann HODGSON

1806 16 Jane GRANGER

1811 18 Jane RUSSELL

1816 17 Aly SALTON

1817 21 Grace TODD

1821 16 Hannah SAWDON

1822 11 Margaret MILBURN

1823 21 Nancy TODD

1825 17 Isabella DOBSON

1828 13 Ann MARLEY

1830 18 Hannah BAIKIE

1830 19 Sarah STUBBS

1831 12 Esther BURN

1837 21 Elizabeth MAW

1839 19 Jane KELD

1842 18 Alice BREWSTER

1842 17 Mary Ann PLUNKET

1845 12 Hannah BULMAN

1845 21 Ann HARRISON

1847 13 Sarah Ann MOLLON

1848 20 Elizabeth HARLAND

1853 21 Jane AVERY

1860 20 Janey LEVITT

1862 17 Maey HODGSON

1866 19 Ann DIXON

1866 15 Eliza HARRISON

1870 18 Henrietta BEDLINGTON

1870 14 Fanny COGGIN

1872 17 Mary SPENCE

1881 21 Martha Ann SKELTON

1883 12 Laura MOUG

1883 19 Mary Ann PEACOCK

1883 17 Hannah BARNARD

1883 18 Hannah Jane HUTTON

1890 21 Isabel PEACOCK

1891 21 Elizabeth BULMER

1894 14 Sarah STUBBS

1900 17 Annie KNAGGS

1900 19 Edith HUTTON

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

White Gloves

White paper gloves were traditionally hung from the centre of Maidens Garlands. I have embellished mine a bit as thats what I do!







Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Minsterley Garlands

At the weekend I finally got to see the 7 maidens' garlands at Minsterley in Shropshire. My interest had been aroused some time ago by an article in World of Interiors ( April 2003) and I was eager to compare them to the ones I had seen at Old St Stephens.



It was a wet gloomy day, suitable for visiting funeral mementos. The 17th century church was built by the Thynnes of Longleat.


The garlands themselves hang high at the back of the church from the original heart shaped estucheons. It was difficult to see them closely but I had remembered to take binoculars.





One of the garlands had been put on display under a glass box so it was possible to see the detail really close.





Paper rosettes are the main feature of the garlands in this church. Some of them appear to be painted and they may have used wallpaper. I have used similar rosettes in the garlands I am making for my exhibition "Remember Me".

One early source suggests the garlands might be made by the person commemorated, which woud be possible in the case of an elderly spinster; but at least one of those for whom a garland was made was a young woman of 20 or 21 years of age.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Fylingdales Maidens' Garlands

The four garlands which hang in Old St Stephens are all over 150 years old. The last Maiden’s Garland carried at Fylingdales Church was for the funeral of Janey Levitt who died in 1859 age 20. Her garland was lost during the restoration process in the 1980s but we do know that one of the garlands was made for Elizabeth Harland who died in 1848 age 19. The garlands were probably made by the friends of the young woman who died before she was married and were carried at her funeral. Notes were taken in 1911 from a Mrs Bedlington whose earliest memories were of Jenny Keld’s funeral in 1838 when the girl’s young friends each held a ribbon attached to the hoop.

The garlands hanging in this church were made on to a base of springy wood bound by strips of calico on to which ribbons were sewn and to which rosettes and bows were also attached. Conservation reports have indicated that the garlands would have been quite bright incorporating over 100ft of silk and muslin ribbons which were predominantly white or cream but with some indication of blues and other coloured silks . There are also strips of what were probably “best” dress materials.There are fragments which suggest the remains of cut out white gloves reinforcing the message of purity. These are accompanied by paper hearts on some of the garlands.

The garlands are extremely fragile and have suffered considerably from constant exposure to light dirt and to damage by moths and woodworm. Their deterioration does not in the least detract from their beauty and pathos as reminders of an old funereal custom.



They hang eerily in a sealed cupboard at the back of the church.











About Maidens' Garlands

Maidens’ Garlands are a funerary memento for the death of a young chaste woman . They are also known as Virgin’s Crowns or Crants. The word Crant deriving from the German “ kranz”, meaning wreath, garland or chaplet.

The custom of hanging maidens’ garlands up in churches seems to have been common in the seventeenth, eighteenth and into the nineteenth centuries. It is even mentioned in William Shakespeare’s Hamlet where at the burial of Ophelia

“…. She is allowed her virgin crants, her maiden strewments”.

They were usually made on to a wicker work frame and appeared to be similar to, and reference, floral bridal wreaths. They could be decorated with gold and silver filigree work , blown birds’ eggs , shells and with ribbons,, silk and paper flowers and rosettes.. Sometimes the flowers were made from paper which might be folded and crimped and then painted. In some places circular white parchment flowers are painted with black crosses. There was usually a center piece made from paper such as a collar or handkerchief or a glove. Sometimes there is text present – an epitaph which might have been chosen by the maiden herself.

The garlands were carried before the corpses of young unmarried women at their funerals or placed on the top of the coffin. By the 17th century it was customary for the garland to be hung over the dead girl’s pew or in the chancel of the church till it disintergrated. The paper gloves which are commonly incorporated into the design of the garland are thought to represent the metaphorical gauntlet ready to be thrown down to defend the dead girl’s honour should anyone dare to question her reputation or virginity.

These lines written by the poet Anna Seward in 1792 refer to the custom;

“The gloves suspended by the garland’s side

White as its snowy flowers with ribbon tied

Dear village! Long may these wreaths funeral spread,

Simple memorials of thy early dead”


Sunday, 10 July 2011

Reliquaries


I thought I had chosen a really unusual image for my profile picture ( yes, its not me!). It is a 16th bust of an unknown saint and I took the photograph myself in the Cloisters Museum in New York last year. Now I see her face popping up in the current crop of magazines as she has been lent by the Metropolitan Museum to "Treasures from Heaven; Saints, Relics and Devotion in Medieval Europe" at the British Museum. Go and see her for yourself.





These 3 women are the reliquaries for the skulls of female saints. They are Belgian and from the early 16th century.
Reliquaries often took the form of the body parts they were created to contain. Bust reliquaries for the skulls of saints were placed on or near altars and, by the Middle Ages, were assembled in large numbers in some church sanctuaries. The small glazed medallions resembling jewellery once displayed additional relics. On particular feast days, such busts were carried in processions.