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Christ in Majesty

The wall hanging called 'Christ in Majesty' is suspended over the north door and is considered to be one of Percy Sheldrick's finest works. The design is strongly influenced by Percy's work at the Morris factory in London which was originally founded to make ecclesiastical decorations including tapestries and embroideries.

'Christ in Majesty' is worked in tent stitch in wool on canvas. This huge hanging which measures 2.4m by 14m, has a double plain border with the inner, narrower band worked in beige and the wider, outer border in burgundy. The background is worked in a cloud-like pattern in shades of blue. The Chi Rho, worked in yellow, is used as a repeated background monogram. The Chi-Rho has been used as a Christian symbol since very early centuries as it is formed from the first two letter of Χριστος the Greek meaning Christ: Χ='Ch' and ρ='r'.- So the Chi Rho symbol is formed from both these letters.

The wall hanging shows the seated figure of Christ wearing a white robe with a rose coloured cloak, lined in green and fastened with a morse (term used for the fastening on a cope) on which there is a quatrefoil shape. Christ's right hand is raised in the usual Latin form of blessing i.e. the three fingers represent the Trinity and the two other fingers the dual nature of Christ being human and divine.

Resting on Christ's left knee is an orb (symbol of a King) and He is holding a very simple Latin cross (the upright bar longer than the horizontal) in His left hand. Christ has a yellow nimbus and superimposed on this is a Greek cross (a cross with symmetrical arms) with splayed ends. Christ is sitting on a plinth embroidered in shades of blue and green and His feet are resting on the top step. Behind the plinth and the upper part of Christ's body are blades of light. Below the seated figure and encircled with a ring of thorns is the figure of Christ crucified. The cross is merely suggested with a thin line of stitching although the letters INRI (acronym for the Latin: meaning 'Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews') and within the circle of thorns are nails, a lance and dice. In the four corners of the hanging are the emblems of the four evangelists, each surrounded by a yellow circle, together with their names; a winged man for St Matthew, a winged lion for St Mark, a winged ox for St Luke and an eagle for St John.

Acknowledgement: Details of embroideries kindly provided by the Hertfordshire Branch of the
National Association of Decorative & Fine Arts Societies (NADFAS).