Farleigh Hungerford Castle Chapel

Transcribed from The Jackson Papers (Manuscripts, Vol 1 pp 172, 172a (1885)) by LJ Abrahams, November 2021

Canon JE Jackson wrote:

“It was about 1840 I discovered that the walls of the Chapel interior, at least towards the East End, had been once stencilled: the ground work generally being a bold foliated or scroll pattern, on which various figures were introduced.
The only figure now to be seen in tolerably perfect condition, is that of ST GEORGE and the Dragon, against the East wall & 14 feet high. This popular painting is well known to have been placed in Churches, in order to convey in an attractive & impressive form to the vulgar mind the Doctrine of the Triumph of the Christian over the Devil & his works.
In the figure at Farleigh, St George is in black armour over which he wears a white surcoat, lined with green, & powdered with a green ornament resembling a leaf or flower; the whole surmounted by a Red Cross. He is directing his eyes towards the figure of a Knight, which may be traced, but imperfectly, on the South wall of the chapel, at right angles to St George.

“This Knight represents one of the Hungerford family; & in the peculiarity of his round cropped head is curiously like the effigy of Robert Lord Hungerford of A.D. 1460, in Salisbury Cathedral. He is on his knees, looking towards St George, & his armour is painted (like a herald’s tabard) (like the effigy on the monument under the arch opposite) with the shield of Hungerford (FitzJohn). On the sleeve or arm of the dress (?) is the same shield in smaller size. Under the sword, when the painting was first discovered, was something in very bright azure & gold; & above in the corner, is the neverfailing Crest, a wheatsheaf & sickles. The ears, face, gorget1 & uplifted hands were when first exposed quite distinct.

St George and the Dragon Farleigh Hungerford Castle Chapel
St George and the Dragon Farleigh Hungerford Castle Chapel

“A piece of the plaster on which the Red Dragon at St George’s feet is painted having given way, there appears underneath, as if part of an older painting, within an oval a cross moline, gules & vert (the Hungerford Family colours) (Christian Cross – heraldry); very like in shape to the Cross worn on the gowns of the Pensioners in the Hungerford Almshouse at Heytesbury.
On the North side of the Altar there also appeared some traces of painting, but past recovery.

“Over the East window, not in colours but in plain black & white, is a large shield of Hungerford quarterings, having for supporters a Griffin & a Crane or other longlegged bird. In the Harl. MSS No. IIII, p. 67 & No. 1443, p. 104,2, the supporters drawn are a Griffin or3, & a Raven sable4 collared & chained or5.
There are some vestiges of embellishment, in architectural pattern still left round the walls, somewhat as if intended to look (?) a dado 6 or skirting board. But this was done only about 1808 (or after) by a Mr. Cranch, a scene painter in the Bath Theatre who was employed to clean the Chapel.”

The Farleigh Hungerford Castle Chapel is currently undergoing restoration, click this link to read the story.

  1. A gorget, from the French “gorge” meaning throat, was a band of linen wrapped around a woman’s neck and head in the medieval period. The term later described a steel or leather collar to protect the throat, a set of pieces of plate armour, or a single piece of plate armour hanging from the neck and covering the throat and chest.
  2. Harleian manuscripts.
  3. gold
  4. black
  5. gold
  6. rail

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