Thursday, 11 June 2015

The 'Pricke of Conscience' window - All Saints North Street, York.

A good friend sent me these brilliant photos that her daughter Rachael took, capturing some scenes from my favourite York stained glass. The 'Pricke of Conscience' window is not for the faint hearted! It illustrates an anonymous devotional poem of c1340, written in the Northumbrian dialect of Middle English. The panels depict in terrifying fashion the last 15 days of the world. The panels read from bottom left to top right, below are some selected scenes along with their accompanying poem...

The first sign: the sea rises to the height of mountains
The se sal ryse, als the bukes says
Abouten the heght of ilka mountayne
Fully fourty cubyttes certaybne
And in his stede even upstande
Als an hegte hille dus on the lande.
Lines 4759–4763

The fourth sign: the fish leap out of the sea roaring.

The fierth day, sal swilk a wonder be
The mast wondreful fisshes of the se
Sal com to-gyder and mak swilk roryng
That it sal be hydus til mans heryng
Bot what that roryng sal signify,
Na man whit, bot God almyghty.
Lines 4770–4775

The seventh sign: Earthquakes destroy buildings.

The sevend day begynns doun sal falle
And grete castels, and tour with-alle.
Lines 4782–4783

The eighth sign: rocks and stones are consumed by fire.

The eght day, hard roches and stanes
Sal strik togyder, alle attanes.
An ilkan of tham sal doun cast
And ilkan agayn other hortel fast
Swa that ilka stan, on diverse wyse,
Sal sonder other in thre partyse.
Lines 4784–4789
The eleventh sign: terrified people come out of the caves praying.

The ellevend day men sal com out
Of caves, and holes and wend about,
Als wode men that na witt can;
And nane sal spek til other than.
Lines 4798–4801

The twelfth sign: graves are opened and dead men’s bones be set together and rise all at once.
The thredend day sal dede men banes
Be sett to-gyder, and ryse al attanes,
And aboven on thair graves stand;
This sal byfalle in ilka land.
Lines 4804–4807
The thirteenth sign: the stars fall from heaven.

The twelfte day aftir, the sternes alle
And the signes fra the heven sal falle.
Lines 4802–4803

The fourteenth sign: The death of all living things.

The fourtend day, al that lyves than
Sal dighe, childe man and woman;
For thai shalle with tham rys ogayn
That byfor war dede, outher til ioy or payn.
Lines 4808–4811
The fifteenth sign: the whole cosmos goes up in flames.
The fiftend day thos sal betyde,
Alle the world sal bryn on ilke syde,
And the erthe whar we now duelle,
Until the utter end of all helle.
Lines 4812–4815
Well I did say it wasn't for the faint hearted! I bet All Saints North Street had one of the quietest congregations in the whole of medieval England!
You can see the full set of panels here; Vidimus or better still visit this beautiful church in person; 

15/10/15 update - A good friend of mine has sent me a full length shot of the panels all together in their full glory;

Photo courtesy of Louise Whittaker

Louise backed up my suspicions about the glazing of the 12th and 13th panel; "the lines in the poem re the thirteenth sign are apparently before those describing the twelfth sign, which would leave me to believe the stars fall down first, so maybe they were glazed around the wrong way!".

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