Lakenheath
Wall Paintings ProjectMedieval Artists

So who were the actual people who made the wall paintings at Lakenheath? Did they work for the church or did they have other jobs as well? Did they live in the village or did they travel from church to church to carry out their work? Who paid for the paintings to be done? Were they painted to commemorate a particular date or event? The truth is we really just donít know.

The paintings in Lakenheath church were carried out over a long period of time - several centuries at least - and we know nothing about who mage them or why they were made. Itís likely that they were paid for by the people of the parish but whether by rich individuals or by the parish as a whole we really donít know.

Here are a few of the very few things we actually do know about medieval artists :-

 

ß Some artists actually used templates to make it easier to apply decorative patterns like those seen at Lakenheath. One such template, made of sheet lead, was discovered at Meaux Abbey in Yorkshire.

 

ß Large artists brushes were often made of hogs bristles whilst the smaller ones, those used to apply the fine detail, were sometimes made of animal tails. The household accounts of Henry II record payments made for brushes made from Squirrel tails!

 

ß Artists usually had to make and grind their own paints. This was done by grinding, burning or crushing up the raw ingredients and mixing them with liquid. Many of these ingredients, such as the size (animal glue) and casein (curd made from sour milk), would have been pretty smelly. Other ingredients, such as red lead and mercury, were actually highly poisonous!

 

 

14th century painting of St Katherine from Hailes Church.

Text Box: © Roger Rosewell