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Statues on the Tower of the University Church

sir George Frampton
13th century (copies)

Oxford /  Statues on the Tower of the University Church   Oxford /  Statues on the Tower of the University Church

Description

At the foot of the spire of the tower of the University Church are 12 statues in 24 shallow niches on the three faces of the pinnacles at the top of the buttresses, 12 niches are empty. A few statues has the name inscribed in the base.

Most of the depicted figures are unidentified. We base our list on the research of Sir Thomas Graham Jackson, The Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford (1897). The 12 statues lettered by him A to L.

The statues are there from the 13th century, two were replaced and one was refronted in 1852 (B, C, and D). For only three statues is sure who they represent (A, D, F, G and J), from the three copies of 1852 the originals are lost and only known from a print of 1674, from which it appears B had a crown, C a mitre and D neither. Three statues depict archbishops with the pallium (E, I and K) and two bishops (C and H). Statue C shows now the name of Walter de Merton.

In the late 19th century eleven of the statues were replaced by true copies made by George Frampton. For the three statues B, C and D of 1852 Frampton made new designs, for C the figure of Walter de Merton was chosen, since it is facing Merton College.

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    West side, south pinnacle:

  1. empty
  2. A. St. Mary with Child, the patroness of the church.
  3. B. s. iohannes evan... - St. John the Evangelist, conventional name for the author of the Gospel of John - considered to be the same person as John the Apostle (Wikipedia)..

    South side, west pinnacle:

  4. empty
  5. walt de merton eps. roc.. - Walter de Merton (c. 1205 - 1277), Bishop of Rochester and founder of Merton College (Wikipedia).
  6. empty

    South side, east pinnacle:

  7. empty
  8. D. s. iohannes bapt. - St. John the Baptist, (c. 6 BC- c. 36 AD), itinerant preacher and a major religious figure who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River. He baptized Jesus at "Bethany beyond the Jordan." (Wikipedia)..
  9. empty

    East side, south pinnacle:

  10. empty
  11. E. An archbishop, perhaps St. Thomas Becket, archibishop of Canterbury (looking towards his see).
  12. empty

    East side, north pinnacle:

  13. empty
  14. F. King Edward II, in whose time the tower was finished and by whom the church was given to Oriel college.
  15. G. St. Hugh of Lincoln (c. 1135-1200), Bishop of Lincoln; In 1194, he expanded the St Mary Magdalen's Church Wikipedia). Shown with his tame swan.

    North side, east pinnacle:

  16. empty
  17. H. A bishop, perhaps St. William of York.
  18. I. An archbishop, Jackson concludes 'There is no clue to the identity of the personage represented'.

    North side, west pinnacle:

  19. empty
  20. J. St. Cuthbert of Durham (c. 634 - 687), patron saint of Northern England (Wikipedia). He holds the head of St. Oswald in his hand
  21. K. An archbishop, 'whose identity unfortunately must left to conjecture.'

    West side, north pinnacle:

  22. empty
  23. L. A bishop, perhaps Richard of Wych, bishop of Chichester (Wikipedia).
  24. empty

According to Vicar Ffoulkes the statues represent some of the prelates who attended in 1280 the translation of the relics of St. Hugh to the new choir in Lincoln: archbishop Peckham (E) and the archbishop of Dublin (I), each looking towards his cathedral; a bishop of Durham (H), facing his see, the archbishop of York (K) and a bishop of Salisbury (L). Ffoulkes takes the king to be Edward I, who also attended the translation of the relics. Jackson did not agree with this.

Sculptor

Sources & Information

Tags

  • Bishop
  • Cuthbert of Durham, St.
  • Edward II (King of England)
  • Frampton, sir George
  • Hugh of Lincoln, St.
  • John the Baptist, St.
  • John the Evangelist, St.
  • Mary with Child
  • Merton, Walter de
  • Monarch
  • Oswald, St.
  • Richard of Chichester, St.
  • William of York, St.
  • Location (N 51°45'10" - W 1°15'13")

    Item Code: gbse143; Photograph: 18 October 2015
    Of each statue we made photos from various angles and also detail photos of the various texts.
    If you want to use photos, please contact us via the contact form (in Dutch, English or German).
    © Website and photos: René & Peter van der Krogt