Albion, ancient sites, Art

The Argument from Art…


The stanchion reads – John Schorne, gentleman born, conjured the devil into a boot.


John Schorne was an Augustinian canon who became Rector of the church of North Marston, serving 1282 – 1314. He was accounted a very holy man, revered by his flock, and credited with many miracles, both during his lifetime and after his death. One of those miracles was the calling forth of a chalybeate spring. During a drought, the villagers asked him for help and, striking the ground with his staff, the healing waters bubbled out of the ground. The holy well is still there, though it is now housed beneath a new canopy. The water was believed to be a cure for fevers, toothache, and especially for gout. So great were its powers said to be that King Henry VIII himself came on pilgrimage to the spring twice, in 1511 and 1521. The well was once a large cistern, with water said to be extremely clear and cold, yet it never froze or failed. Local doctors often included the well water in their ‘potions’ and it is said that the village escaped the cholera epidemic that swept through the area.


There are differences in the depictions of our two ‘Johns’ but the similarities are remarkable.

St John has his eagle, John Schorne, his well-bucket.

John Schorne is given a halo which if not saintly is certainly holy.

Colour-wise their apparel is the same and both John’s have ‘red’ hair.

Interestingly, St John looks to the heavens for his ‘magic’,

whilst John Schorne focuses on the presumably magical gesture itself.



We probably need the relevant St John story at this point.


… According to a legend from the Acts of John,

St John was challenged to drink a cup of poison to demonstrate the power of his faith,

and thanks to God’s aid the poison was rendered harmless.


So, in strict iconographical terms,

the dragon, snake, or devil in the chalice represents ‘poison’.


I was taught never to resort to the dictionary for word meanings

without also considering the context in which those words occur.


What works for words should also work for symbols…


2 thoughts on “The Argument from Art…”

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