Home > St Margaret's > Wall Paintings

 

 

Wall Paintings

Look up, and you will see not, "'Nasty patches of damp, you've got there, Vicar" but all that remains of the wall paintings.

To understand the reason for wall paintings in churches one has to recall that for most of the church's history, the people who will have gathered here were illiterate. The last 'X his mark' in the church's wedding registers was in 1910. Visual aids, therefore, played a very important part in church teaching.

In very prosperous churches, such visual aids were provided by stained glass windows. Humbler establishments had wall paintings. At one time the wall paintings probably extended all round the upper part of the church, but what you see is all that now remains. 

Little can be made of most of them. The strange shape above the organ arch is apparently part of the dress of a large standing figure. Of the other mark on the arch we can make nothing.

The mark to the left of the chancel arch is more revealing, at least to an expert. First it reveals that there have been a number of different paintings on this wall at different times, and what we are now seeing therefore is the confusion that results from seeing bits of paint from different pictures. Second, however, the greenish line running through the centre, indicates that one of the pictures that was on this wall was of the last judgement. The green line would have represented the earth. Above it would have been the souls of the blessed rising to paradise. Below it would have been the souls of the damned plunging into hell.

The only pictures which present recognisable subjects are above the pulpit. St. Katherine (to whom this church may originally have been dedicated) is to be seen with her wheel, and just above the pulpit canopy, and visible only either with the help of a ladder, or, in good light, from the choir stalls, is another female martyr being bludgeoned to death. The subject is a bit gruesome, but the execution of the picture is superb - the hair picked out in the most delicate and subtle lines of red and gold.

Back to Top     Back to St Margaret's

 

From left to right:
"the strange shape above the organ"
"the other mark on the arch" &
"the mark to the left of the chancel"

The pictures above the pulpit