Knight of Tydd St Mary

At the parish church of Tydd St Mary (Lincolnshire), an interesting building about which I have already written, I fell about laughing. It is a curious place with some highly impressive architectural features and historical associations, eyes were wet from the tears of laughter. Against a wall leaned the carved tombstone of a knight, as such establishments are wont to possess.

I would date the style of armour to the fourteenth century, and have no doubt that the one depicted could employ the sword and dagger, which are shown beside him, to devasting effect. For all this hard man image and lethal weaponry, however, the face peeping out of the pointed helmet is that of a boy. No, it is better than that; it is the face of a simpleton or cartoon character.

“I told you I can’t carve faces!”, I hear the mason cry as his patron objects to the simplistic depiction. That face would not hurt a fly, much less a grizzled opponent on a bloody medieval battlefield. Perhaps the knight in question was well known for his pleasant, butter-wouldn’t-melt appearance. An alternative explanation is that the original face was rubbed off, and what we have is a relatively modern attempt to have some facial features peer back. If this is so, they needn’t have bothered.

William Cowper’s famous hymn God Moves has that wonderful verse:

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

Our God is fiercer and more terrifying than any sword-wielding, plate-armoured knight, but to those whom He loves, He will appear more joyful and radiant than anyone we ever met on earth, beaming pleasure and fatherly satisfaction at our arrival home- for Christ's sake.