The Holy Water Stoup in Petton Church

One of the Treasures of Our Benefice

Petton Church, dating from the twelfth century, is the oldest of our four church foundations. Just inside the door on the right hand side is a medieval Holy Water stoup, possibly the oldest artefact in the benefice.  This is a vessel for holding holy water into which the faithful who enter dip the fingers of the right hand, blessing themselves with the sign of the cross.  Holy water stoups are derived from the brazen laver used by the Temple priests (Exod. XXX.20) and from the fountains in the atrium of the old basilicas.  They came into more general use from the ninth century, when the custom of sprinkling the people with holy water known as the Asperses before the Sunday Mass became widespread.  It was found when Petton moat was cleaned out in 1925 where is had probably been discarded at the time of the Reformation.  Experts think it may have originally been a Lord’s Measure used for measuring corn.  It is certainly a rare and interesting survival.

Christopher Jobson

Feature Image courtesy of Christopher Jobson.

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