Commentary on the Altar Border as written by Jill Stewart
"All the species in this design are related to the Virgin Mary in terms of folklore and medieval interpretation. The flowers would have been picked and used for altar decorations throughout the church’s seasons (St. Mary de Haura, 2014)."
In sequence along the bed from the west end:
The primrose was used for altar decoration in spring. Medieval Latin – the first rose, referring to the first flower in spring.
The Lenten or Christmas rose. An early spring bloom that is said to flower on Christmas Day to honour Christ’s Birthday.
The heart shaped leaves and scent suggest modesty and innocence. “Our Lady’s Modesty”.
‘Our Lady’s mantle’ – the leaves provide a non–wetting surface felt to be suitable as a cloak.
“Our Lady’s Bells”. Snowdrops are usually flowering on 2 February, which is the date of Candlemas.
White petals and golden stamen were heralded by the Venerable Bede to represent Mary’s purity and radiance. The lily was commonly included in medieval paintings depicting the Virgin Mary.
‘Gilly’ flower. Regarded as a symbol of the Virgin Mary.
Marigold. ‘Mary’s Gold’. This plant supplies an orange /yellow dye.
Known as ‘Heartsease’ or ‘Herb Trinity’. The latter refers to the three colours of purple, white and yellow in each flower and seen in paintings of the Virgin Mary.
The sword shaped leaves of the iris are reputed to remind one of the sorrows that ‘pierced Mary’s heart’ when told of Simeon’s prophesy for Christ.
Lily of the Valley or ‘Our Lady’s Tears’. This flower is said to have grown where Mary wept. The flower is used as decoration in the Lady Chapel of churches.
Rosemary. The pale blue blooms are said to refer to the colour of Mary’s veil.