Bishop of Norwich dedicates Ashwellthorpe Triptych replica

A colourful replica of a stunning medieval artwork which holds a special place in the history of a south Norfolk village has returned home.

The Rt Rev Graham James, the Bishop of Norwich, dedicated the full-sized photographic reproduction of the Ashwellthorpe Triptych yesterday as it took its rightful place at All Saints' Church, in Ashwellthorpe.

The service was packed with residents and representatives of the various charitable trusts which had helped raise the �4,600 needed to create the realistic copy, which had been on display at Norwich Cathedral throughout December.

The Ashwellthorpe Triptych, the original of which sits on permanent display at Norwich Castle Museum, is a Flemish altarpiece which depicts the Seven Sorrows of the Virgin Mary.

It was painted by an unknown artist around 1520 and was commissioned by the Knyvett family of Ashwellthorpe, with figures of Christopher Knyvett and his wife Catherine with their coat of arms also depicted.

Although there is no conclusive evidence to suggest it once sat in All Saints' Church, it is believed it was made with the church in mind.

Mary Yule, a volunteer with the Norfolk branch of the Art Fund which commissioned the replica, said she was 'thrilled' to see it finally sat in the spot for which it was intended.

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She raised �1,500 alone for the work by spending an hour perched on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, London, as part of Antony Gormley's One & Other Project in 2009.

'I'm thrilled and delighted and very, very moved. And it's wonderful that the bishop has been able to dedicate it,' said Mrs Yule.

'There's no firm evidence that it (Ashwellthorpe Triptych) was actually here but it must have been because it just fits and it's too large to have been painted for a private devotional chapel - it was meant for a public church.

'The village has always followed it's story and I hope they're thrilled that it's back.'

During his sermon, the Bishop said: 'This is one of those occasions which is a sheer delight. The technical wizardry in producing such a brilliant reproduction of Ashwellthorpe's artistic treasure could not have been done in an earlier generation.

'The frame itself is a thing of beauty and the imagination on part of the people who commissioned and raised the funds is wonderful.'

Other contributors included the Norwich Town Close Estate Charity, the John Jarrold Trust, the Anne French Memorial Trust and the Timothy Coleman Charitable Trust.