04 May 2024

The Lamport Crucifix:
50 Years of the Lamport Hall
Preservation Trust

The Lamport Crucifix … on loan from Peterborough Cathedral in the exhibition marking 50 Years of the Lamport Hall Preservation Trust (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Patrick Comerford

‘50 Years: Take A Step Back In Time’ is an exhibition in Lamport Hall, Northamptonshire, celebrating 50 years of the Lamport Hall Preservation Trust, set up by Sir Gyles Isham in 1974.

This specially curated exhibition marks the 50th anniversary of Lamport Hall Preservation, and tells the story of the trust. The exhibition on the ground floor of the house is open from April to October.

I was invited to opening of the exhibition last Saturday evening (27 April 2024). As part of the exhibition, Catriona Finlayson and Nathan Carter Smith have produced a 100-page catalogue, for which I was invited to write this contribution on the Lamport Crucifix:

The Lamport Crucifix

Patrick Comerford

A processional cross or crucifix which is carried in Christian processions, both in church and in outdoor processions. For Christians, the Cross is the symbol of the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Most churches are expected to own a processional cross, and the style and use depends on the denomination of the church, for example, with Roman Catholics and High Church Anglicans the processional cross will usually be a crucifix, whereas in Nonconformist Protestant parishes, it is likely to be an empty cross.

In some churches the processional cross is brought to the Communion Table or Chancel by a crucifer at the beginning of the service and placed on the Communion Table where it acts as an Altar cross, whereas in other churches the processional cross and the Altar cross are two separate crosses.

It is believed the cross was buried during the Dissolution of the Monasteries which saw the mass destruction of Catholic iconography. The Cross dates from circa 1475 and was found when alterations were made to the dairy [at Lamport Hall] in 1674.

It was preserved by the [Isham] family until 1905, when Sir Vere [Isham] presented it to the parish of Lamport in thanksgiving for his recovery from illness earlier that year.

At some point the cross was moved to Peterborough Cathedral for safekeeping. The exact note is not known, but it has been on display there for several decades.

The Lamport Crucifix measures 609 mm x 515 mm and is quite similar in design and size to the Bosworth Crucifix. The Bosworth Crucifix was first discovered in 1778 and was said to have been found on the field of Bosworth – the famous site of the battle between Richard III and Henry VII that decided the Wars of the Roses. The cross was carried by Richard’s supporters but was lost during the fierce battle.

The Lamport Crucifix bears some resemblance to the famous piece. However, it is more complete, with its two lower branches still intact, preserving the side figures of the Virgin Mary and Saint John. Jesus on the Cross has his head inclined towards the right shoulder. The Lamport Crucifix has enamelled strips forming the body of the cross and its Corpus may have been silver rather than gilded.

The rare 15th century cross is very reminiscent of the Bosworth Crucifix, once owned by the Comerford family and now in the collection of the Society of Antiquaries in London and a processional cross now in the Hunt Museum in Limerick.

The third cross is a similar 15th century English processional cross. It bears a remarkable resemblance to the Bosworth Crucifix and the Lamport Crucifix. This processional crucifix is dated ca 1450, is made of bronze, and is mounted on a modern wooden base.

Processional crosses of this type were made in large numbers and were exported from England. There are numerous examples from Ireland, and the finest example is said to be the Ballylongford Cross, made in 1479. The processional cross in the Hunt Museum was bought at auction in Christies in 1961 by John Hunt for £130.

It gives us great pleasure to be able to display this cross at Lamport again and it felt fitting to present it in the room which Sir Gyles [Isham] used as his chapel after his conversion to Catholicism.

Reverend Patrick Comerford is a priest in the Church of Ireland and has been a Lecturer in Anglicanism, Liturgy and Church History in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute and an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the University of Dublin (Trinity College Dublin). He writes an excellent blog on travel, local history and architecture

• ‘The Lamport Crucifix’, in: Catriona Finlayson (ed), 50 Years of the Lamport Hall Preservation Trust (Lamport, Northamptonshire, 2024, 100 pp), pp 54-57

Daily prayer in Easter 2024:
35, 4 May 2024

Peacocks, symbols of Resurrection, in the Church of the Four Martyrs, Rethymnon … the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates Easter tonight (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Patrick Comerford

Easter is a 50-day season that continues until the Day of Pentecost (19 May 2024), and tomorrow is the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Easter VI). Easter has been later in the Greek Orthodox Church this year, and Easter is celebrated in the Orthodox Church tonight.

Throughout this Season of Easter, my morning reflections each day include the daily Gospel reading, the prayer in the USPG prayer diary, and the prayers in the Collects and Post-Communion Prayer of the day.

The Calendar of the Church of England in Common Worship today remembers the English Saints and Martyrs of the Reformation Era with a Lesser Festival. Later this evening, I hope to attend the Easter celebrations in the Greek Orthodox Church in Stony Stratford. But, before this day begins, I am taking some quiet time this morning to give thanks, for reflection, prayer and reading in these ways:

1, today’s Gospel reading;

2, a prayer from the USPG prayer diary;

3, the Collects and Post-Communion prayer of the day.

The Memorial to the Martyrs of the Reformation in the University Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Oxford … the English Saints and Martyrs of the Reformation Era are commemorated on 4 May (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

John 15: 18-21 (NRSVA):

[Jesus said:] 18 ‘If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world – therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, “Servants are not greater than their master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.’

The Martyrs’ Memorial on Saint Giles in Oxford … the English Saints and Martyrs of the Reformation Era are commemorated on 4 May (Photograph: Patrick Comerford)

Today’s Prayers (Saturday 4 May 2024):

The theme this week in ‘Pray With the World Church,’ the Prayer Diary of the Anglican mission agency USPG (United Society Partners in the Gospel), has been ‘The Sacred Circle.’ This theme was introduced last Sunday with a programme update adapted from the Autumn edition of Revive magazine.

The USPG Prayer Diary today (4 May 2024) invites us to pray:

Lord, let us be truthful to ourselves and to others. May we embrace each other for our authentic selves.

The Collect:

Merciful God,
who, when your Church on earth was torn apart
by the ravages of sin,
raised up men and women in this land
who witnessed to their faith with courage and constancy:
give to your Church that peace which is your will,
and grant that those who have been divided on earth
may be reconciled in heaven
and share together in the vision of your glory;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Post Communion Prayer:

God, the source of all holiness and giver of all good things:
may we who have shared at this table
as strangers and pilgrims here on earth
be welcomed with all your saints
to the heavenly feast on the day of your kingdom;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Collect on the Eve of Easter VI:

God our redeemer,
you have delivered us from the power of darkness
and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:
grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life,
so by his continual presence in us he may raise us
to eternal joy;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.

Yesterday’s reflection

Continued tomorrow

A minute’s prayer in the Cathedral in Rethymnon last week … the Greek Orthodox Church celebrates Easter tonight (Patrick Comerford, 2024)

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition copyright © 1989, 1995, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org