Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

An 18th Century Headstone With A Rare And Elaborate Design

Headstones with Biblical scenes are rare. Here the Risen Christ- carrying a spade- appears to St Mary Magdalene- who initially mistakes him for the gardener.  Behind her two figures in loincloths are paddling in shallow water- at least I think that's what they're doing. I don't know why they're there. There could be a reference to Baptism or- possibly- to crossing the river of death. The date on the stone is only partially legible. I'm guessing at 1781.

So far as I know this particular design is only found in Kent. This example is at Woodchurch and I know of another in the churchyard at Hadlow. There are others at Stone in Oxney and Boughton Monchelsea. The last of these also seems to have the two mysterious paddlers- though the image is badly eroded- and they may just be attendant angels. All of the Christs carry spades. The images are sufficiently similar for a common source to be likely.  I'm thinking village stone masons may well have got their ideas from popular prints- and if we could identfy the original it might explain the paddlers. It was not unusual for artists to give the risen Christ a garden implement- most commonly a spade but also occasionally a mattock. There are examples from the Middle Ages onwards. In some of them he also wears a hat- as in this famous painting by Rembrandt.
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.