Touching Place

OUR LADY OF EGMANTON,

Think ‘Nottinghamshire,’ and coalfields come to mind, but the countryside south of Tuxford is a green and pleasant land. Tradition has it that Our Lady appeared to an Egmanton woman in medieval times, and a shrine grew up here. This vanished at the Reformation, and until the l890s, Egmanton church remained unspectacular within and without. In 1895, the devout 7th Duke of Newcastle commissioned a little-known 31-year-old architect named John Ninian Comper to restore the church. Seldom had there been a coup de théâtre such as this.

Victorian restorations often resulted in an obtrusive organ cluttering up an aisle or chancel; here Comper placed it above the south door (your entrance), with pipes covered by painted doors and topped by a statue of Our Lady of Egmanton. But you are not conscious of the organ, as your attention is grabbed by the gloriously coloured roodscreen, with loft bearing six candles and Rood group, complete with canopy of honour (though lacking the angels of Comper’s later screens). In 2004–5, Michelle Pepper removed the dirt of a hundred years and restored this whole ensemble. Beyond lies the riddel-posted high altar, above which Comper placed the hanging pyx for the Sacrament. The splendid east window depicts the Virgin and Child, flanked by Sts Anne, Mary Magdalene, Salome and Mary Cleopas, with the Annunciation and Assumption above, vigorously displayed using strong colours.

The canopied shrine of Our Lady of Egmanton occupies a prominent place against the north wall of the chancel. All very English, except for the later statue of St Thérèse of Lisieux in the north aisle. ‘Unity by inclusion’ perhaps? The pilgrimage to Our Lady of Egmanton was restored in 1929. Pray for all on pilgrimage, particularly those nearing the end of their earthly pilgrimage towards Christ, their one true destination. Remember also the work of the Society for the Maintenance of the Faith (patrons of Egmanton). Simon Cotton

The canopied shrine of Our Lady of Egmanton occupies a prominent place against the north wall of the chancel. All very English, except for the later statue of St Thérèse of Lisieux in the north aisle. ‘Unity by inclusion’ perhaps? The pilgrimage to Our Lady of Egmanton was restored in 1929. Pray for all on pilgrimage, particularly those nearing the end of their earthly pilgrimage towards Christ, their one true destination. Remember also the work of the Society for the Maintenance of the Faith (patrons).

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