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St Sidwell's Mural

Page updated 23rd April 2017

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This large, colourful sculpture/mural on the front of the old Tesco store, next to St Sidwells Church, depicts St Sidwella. During the Roman occupation, a wealthy British Romanized family lived in Exeter. The father, a Christian, died, leaving his young children in the care of a cruel stepmother.

One daughter Sidwella, was a pure, devout and beautiful girl who regularly prayed. Her father left her the bulk of his fortune making the stepmother, you've guessed it, bitter and jealous. She plotted Sidwella's death.

As Sidwella knelt in silent prayer in a cornfield, the corn reaper, paid by her stepmother, crept up and cut off her head with a scythe. A spring of pure water appeared from the ground, where her head came to rest. Her body was buried on the site of St Sidwells Church, making her Exeter's very own saint.

The was commissioned by Tesco, in 1969, and created by Frederick Irving, an art teacher Bideford Art College. The face of St Sidwell was based on Meg Compton who was a student at the college. She had to lay back on a bench while her face was sculpted from clay. Compton was also asked to plat the hair for the piece out of clay. A plaster mould was made from the clay to allow the piece to be fabricated from fibre glass.

St Sidwell wall sculpture

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