We have enjoyed a busy and involving week since our last posting from South Somerset District Council’s Community Heritage Access Centre.
In a departure from our usual weekly posting, we wish to highlight some notable and intriguing aspects of the collection. This thought came from attending a learning symposium at the Royal West of England Academy of Art in Bristol, where there was a ‘Painting of the Month.’ We cannot promise a painting or an object on every blog page, mainly as we have so much to report back on – but we aim to have a ‘sprinkling’ of interest.
For our first ‘highlight’ we asked one of our volunteers to select one of their favourite paintings or artworks. They selected the ‘Angel Inn’ Panel because of its eye-catching nature; the materials the panel is made from; as far as we know it is possibly unique and is always full of interest, no matter how many times the features are viewed.
The carved wooden panel depicts Adam and Eve, Abraham and Isaac. Abraham is about to sacrifice Isaac and his arm is stayed by an angel. His two servants, one drinking from a water bottle, remain with the ass at the foot of the mountain, while the sacrificial ram is shown caught in a thicket. The panel used to hang in the kitchen of the Angel Inn, Hendford, Yeovil, which stood on the site of the present Westminster Bank. An example of early Puritan influence, the inclusion of a lion and a unicorn has reference to the supporters of James I’s royal coat of arms. The panel is believed to date from 1603.
Correspondence relating to historical research on the panel is contained in the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society proceedings for 1910. A ‘loan museum’ was set up in the justice room at Yeovil Town Hall in 1909 and on page 67 mentions a ‘large oak carving taken from the old Angel Inn, Yeovil – exhibited by Mr. H. M. Watts’.Richard Gough Nichols Bodleian Library written in 1761 states: ‘The Angel Inn (Yeovil) is celebrated over this County for its Kitchen…furnish’t with the greatest variety of curiosities’. After listing some of them, the writer added that the landlord’s whole delight was centred on this singular room. His successor in 1779 advertised the inn as ‘famed for the beautiful kitchen and repository of curiosities in a Western Flying Post 1 January 1779 advertisement. The inn was pulled down in around 1850.
Recent information has also noted that the panel is possibly the work of Humphry Beckham who died 2.2.1671 aged 83, in Salisbury, Wiltshire. There are carvings by Beckham in Salisbury which have a similar style.
The ‘Angel Inn’ Panel believed to date from 1603, which was part of a ‘curious collection’ arranged in the former Angel Inn, Yeovil. Note the gilded frame.