Lakenheath
Wall Paintings ProjectThe Wall Paintings (continued)

The third, and most colourful, of the medieval painting schemes was created in the 14th century and completely covered the earlier paintings. Unfortunately, only a few figures from this scheme are clearly visible today.

It is thought that the paintings depicted the Passion of Christ and a number of locally important saints. High up on the north arcade it is still possible to make out individual figures from scenes that included The Harrowing of Hell, The Resurrection, Christ Carrying the Cross and the Flagellation. Below these, almost at ground level, is the clearly visible figure of St Edmund, King and Martyr. Edmund is shown crowned and seated and three arrows (symbols of his martyrdom) are just visible to the left of the figure. He is also shown with his left hand raised—possibly in blessing.

Left:

Detail of the seated figure of St Edmund. The remains of the three arrows, painted in deep red, can be clearly seen to the left of the picture.

 

Below:

Figures from the 14th century painting scheme—Christ Carrying the Cross.

The latest of the medieval paint schemes still visible is represented by only a tiny fragment to the right of the chancel arch. Although only a single painting, the surviving figure of The Risen Christ, is arguably the finest of all the paintings to survive at St Mary’s. The quality of artwork, and the pigments used (which include vermillion), appear to be of far higher quality than many of the preceding paintings. However, this particular painting has suffered ill judged conservation in the past, when it was covered with a ‘protective’ layer of wax, and now has a very faded and subdued appearance.

Left:

Detail of the face of The Risen Christ. Probably dating from the 15th century. The brown surface staining is caused by dirt and dust that have become fixed to the layer of wax applied to the painting in an ill-judged attempt to preserve it.

Further information about medieval wall paintings:

Medieval Wall Paintings in English and Welsh Churches by Roger Rosewell (Boydell Press, 2008)

http://www.wallpaintings.org/cms/ - a site devoted to wall paintings.

http://www.paintedchurch.org/ - a very good visual site.