Q. Why were the wall paintings made?
A very good question with no really clear answer—although there are a number of theories. Many people believe that the Biblical stories shown in the wall paintings acted as ‘books for the illiterate’. Most of those people who attended church in the middle ages couldn’t read or write English—and they certainly couldn’t understand the language of the church services which were carried out in Latin. The images may have acted as visual reminders of the Bible stories.
However, this obviously isn’t true of all medieval wall paintings. Some show images of Saints that are linked to the church or are of particular local importance (as with St Edmund at Lakenheath). Others are purely decorative and, as at least one of the schemes at Lakenheath shows, may have been paintings of things such as wall hangings or decorative stonework. These, it would appear, have no real religious connections and might have been painted simply to brighten up the inside of the church.