Christopher Marsh, a historian at Queen's University, Belfast, sent photographs of some late 16th century wall paintings in the Cambridgeshire house of a probable fortune-teller. He wants to know whether there is any connection between the pictures and astrology, fortune-telling, cartomancy etc. I was able to see immediately that there is nothing astrological in the images, but the presence of playing cards in such a strange (and very early) tableau was immensely intriguing, especially when added to the following:
Marsh is working on the theory that the house was owned by one William Tassell who was at various times in trouble for 'casting of figures', 'prophesying' (he was also referred to as a conjuror) and for belonging to a mystical religious fellowship called The Family of Love (Familia Caritatis). He died in 1574.
http://www.exlibris.org/nonconform/engd ... lists.html
and from Marsh’s book on the Family of Love:
http://books.google.com/books?id=W9146V ... 74&f=false
The pictures are a mixture of original sections, now removed from the walls and framed separately, and modern sketches, made some time shortly before the pictures were taken down or, in some cases, obliterated completely.
In the modern sketch of the original wall decoration (possibly fresco)—Tassett3—there are three repetitions of the 8 of Diamonds (the original seems to depict four 8 of Diamonds in a box shape), plus a 3 of Diamonds and a 5 of Clubs. The positions of everything in the modern sketch seems different than in the original, but it is hard to tell.
Tassell1: original featuring playing cards and female figures.
Tassell2: a close-up of the playing cards from the original.
Tassell3: modern sketch of what is depicted in the Tassell1 picture.
The other pictures are of other wall coverings: possibly a repeat pattern of a Tudor Rose, and the final image that is remarkably like a Marseille-style 2 of Cups, although I’m not sure if the figures are meant to represent dolphins.
Tassell4: one of the original sections, perhaps purely decorative.
Tassell5: modern sketch of decorations (now lost completely, I think)
Tassell6 : modern sketch of wall painting (original now lost) that was over one of the chimneypieces in the house.
Marsh would appreciate any ideas or information we might be able to come up with. I’m cross-posting this to aeclectic's tarotforum.