Thursday, 7 March 2019


I am fascinated by, and have already blogged, the fifteenth century Five Wounds Window in Sidmouth church.   For one thing, what is represented is not so much five wounds as five glass phials filled with blood.

The window depicts five glass phials with 'heavenly crown' lids containing blood taken from the wounds of Christ.  Each of the phials is labelled,  thus:

blood from the right hand:   phial of wisdom.
blood from the left hand:     phial of mercy.
blood from Christ's side:     phial of everlasting life.
blood from the right foot:    phial of grace.
blood from the left foot:      phial of ghostly comfort.

All of which seems very strange and unique.   Such a window was probably intended to stimulate prayer.  There was a special mass dedicated to the five wounds and prayers to the wounds were deemed to be very powerful and could earn very large dispensations and indulgences saving the devout Christian many centuries of pain in Purgatory.   Praying to the wounds of Christ was linked to the rosary and could be prayed to at designated intervals as the contrite sinner worked his or her way around the beads.

 I don't know whether the different wounds were generally linked, in the medieval mind, with the virtues and rewards indicated by the phials of Sidmouth church  but clearly one could not pray better than for wisdom, mercy and so on.  Ghostly comfort presumably was what the sinner hoped to gain from confession to a holy (ghostly) father of the church.        

Saturday, 2 March 2019


The little school at Salcombe Regis in 1850 housed a lending library.  We know this, if not from elsewhere, from a remarkable polemic by Thomas William Christie entitled " Extracts from Books Taught at Salcombe Regis National School with Remarks on their Popish Character."  published in Sidmouth by J Harvey, Fore Street and in London, 1850 and now to be found in the British Library.   The title and rules of the lending library seem first to have been promulgated in 1847.  The title was The Salcombe and Sid Lending Library, interesting perhaps in that at so late a date the Regis was not found in an official title but Christie uses it three years later.

It was not much of a library!  There were only 152 books and all of them seem to have been religious works.  The charge made for borrowing a large book was one penny.   A halfpenny would let you take away a small book and for a farthing you could borrow a tract.  Anyone connected with the school, including the children, could read the books without paying.

This Thomas William Christie, was a prolific writer and ferreter-out of papists and according to the Alumni Cantab.  was "a faithful preacher of the faith of God's elect."  He seems to have been something of a Irish peripatetic trouble-maker.   In 1850 he was living or lodging at Salcombe Mount.   

I intend to blog more on the nineteenth century Puseyites of Salcombe Regis as and when.