…of Dragons abound in Albion, and these creatures often had their lairs beside Holy Wells.
For those still uneasy with the equivalence of dragons and devils,
the stained glass window depicting St Michael, above, neatly conflates
his dragon/devil slaying exploits.
‘Conjuring the devil into a boot’, though, might be more problematic!
The logic, rather than having anything to do with gout, runs something like this.
The mediaeval practice of Pilgrimage was intimately tied up with notions of sin.
The idea being that Pilgrimages were undertaken as expiation.
They were usually long, arduous journeys that were undertaken on foot to places of sanctity.
The pilgrim, if he or she made it, would at the very least expect to suffer blisters of the feet.
These would be interpreted as ‘the sins’ leaving the body through contact with the Holy Route!
It comes as no surprise, then, that North Marston Church was, in the Middle Ages,
a popular Pilgrimage that rivaled the still famous Pilgrimage of Walsingham.
The Church Tower was painted white and on sunny days must have shone
in the landscape like a beacon.
As the devil was believed to be the orchestrator of ‘original sin’
it might not be too much of a stretch to regard, ‘conjuring the devil into a boot’
as folkloric shorthand for, ‘establishing a Pilgrimage’?
To be at least reasonably confident in our latest theory,
we needed another church with a St John the Evangelist window,
and links to a sacred spring or Holy Well.
Ideally with one or the other, or both situated on-site
Did we know of any?…