St Bridget's Church, Skenfrith / Ynysgynwraidd (The Bishop's Cope)

Recent Photograph of St Bridget's Church (The Bishop's Cope) (Skenfrith / Ynysgynwraidd)

A Cope is the cape worn by a Bishop on processional or ceremonial occasions. It is semicircular, with a portion cut out for the neck, and sometimes with a hood attached. The Information plaque by the side of the display case provides the following description of this particular one - ‘The Skenfrith Cope’:

“The Skenfrith Cope is a fine example of English Embroidery of the fifteenth century. The different parts of the pattern were first worked in coloured silks and silver gilt threads on canvas, and afterwards applied to velvet.

In the centre of the Cope is the Virgin Mary, borne aloft by three angels. On either side is a Seraph, an[d] another is represented below. The rest of the Cope is covered with floral devices; the fleur-de-lis, the pomegranate and the double headed eagle. On the hood is seated a figure of the Virgin holding the infant Saviour. The Orphreys (ornamental borders), are embroidered with standing figures of the Saints, under canopies. Next to the hood, on the right hand side, is the figure of St. Andrew - the other figures are too worn to be identified with certainty.

How the Cope has escaped destruction is a mystery. In times of stress it must have been hidden away, especially at the Reformation. And possibly John Morgan, the last Catholic Governer of Skenfrith, preserved and concealed it. We know in the 1840's it was rotting in the damp on the Communion Table, but it was subsequently restored to its present condition (in its present position).”

Please note the curtains in front of the display case are normally kept closed, to protect the Cope from the light. Visitors are invited to open them to look, but respectfully asked to close them after viewing (as I did, after taking this photograph)

(Information provided by Rosemary Lockie)

Image contributed by Rosemary Lockie on 25th June 2009.
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