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The Fernhurst Society

Tales from the Archives - 29

The Christmas Message

Most Fernhurst residents will, I’m sure, have visited Shulbrede Priory on a Spring or Late Summer Bank Holiday rather than brave the clogged main road to go further afield.  It’s especially pleasurable to show off this unique treasure right on our doorstep to visitors.

In the Prior’s Chamber there is a mural from around 1500, which particularly relates to Christmas.  It depicts various animals and birds in a landscape of green hills.  They have scrolls coming out of their mouths. 

The cockerel crows Christus natus est (Christ is born)
Quando?  Quando? (When?  When?) asks the duck
In hoc nochte (Last night) replies the raven
Then the bull wants to know Ubi?  Ubi? (Where?  Where?)
And the lamb bleats In Bethlehem.

This wall painting probably relates to the widespread belief at that time that the animals were blessed with the power of speech on Christmas Day and as good medieval Christians, they would have spoken in Latin!

If you would like to know more about this story, or research other local topics, the Archive is open on Tuesdays, 2.30-5pm in the Village Hall. Other times by arrangement.

Christine Maynard
Fernhurst Archive

One of a series of short articles bringing you some of the incidents from our rich village history. Collated by Christine Maynard, based on documents preserved at the Fernhurst Archives, these originally were published in the monthly Fernhurst News.

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