Shakespeare Connected - The Material Faith of Shakespeare
PURGE BUT PRESERVE
The purging of images from churches after the religious settlement of 1559 was initially careful and selective. The Elizabethan Injunctions of that year set out detailed instructions on how to implement the reforms, which involved destruction but also preservation. They ordered the clergy to ‘take away, utterly extinct and destroy all shrines…pictures, paintings and all other monuments of… idolatry, and superstition… preserving nevertheless, or repairing both the walls and glass windows’. John Shakespeare, as town chamberlain, supervised the ‘defacing’ of images in Stratford’s Guild Chapel in 1563, the year before William was born.
This is a coloured print of one of the medieval wall paintings in the Guild Chapel. The print was made around 1804 following the discovery of the paintings under the whitewash. The print suggests how the scene might originally have appeared in its position on the West wall dividing the nave from the holy chancel area. The subject is the ‘Doom’, or the Last Judgement of souls, presided over by Christ in Majesty.
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