Some More Wall Paintings

Hardham: St. Botolphs Church: The "Lewes Group" 12th century wall paintings




I’ve just been looking up church wall paintings  as  a result of their appearance in one of yesterdays posts.

I am trying to learn more about them, though it is not, at this time, possible to visit any churches.

One of the best preserved painted interiors seems to be found in St Botolph’s Church, Hadham, in West Sussex. It’s not a part of the country I’m familiar with,though it’s always seemed very pleasant on the rare occasions I have visited. The church is either Saxon or early Norman and is quite small and plain on the outside. It’s a different matter on the inside, where the original wall paintings were rediscovered in 1862.

Hardham: St. Botolphs Church: The "Lewes Group" 12th century wall paintings

There are 39 different scenes, including four of St George, the earliest depiction of him in a British church.

Hardham: St. Botolphs Church: The "Lewes Group" 12th century wall paintings

This is St George being tortured on a wheel. I’m fascinated by the age of the paintings, and the way they have survived over the years, less fascinated by the subjects. It seems to me that our ancestors took far too much interest in torture and death.

This church is one of a group of five churches known to have been painted by a locally-based group of crafstmen using locally available pigments (red and yellow ochre), which led to the colour palette being referred to as ‘bacon and eggs’.

At St John the Baptist’s Church, Clayton, the paintings feature scenes of the Day of Judgement, making them an early example of Doom paintings.

There is a conservation dilemma at the church, as they also have bats. Bat urine is damaging the roof timbers and bat droppings have to be cleaned from the walls before services. This leaves the 800-year-old wall paintings at risk. It’s a case of irresistable force and immovable object. The paintings are listed for preservation purposes, but it is illegal to interfere with the bats.

One of the things I note, is that the paintings at Hardham were whitewashed in the 13th Century, when I normally think of it happening in the 16th century, at the time of the Reformation.

Photographs © Copyright Michael Garlick and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

19 thoughts on “Some More Wall Paintings

  1. Helen

    Another interesting wall painting. As you suggest above, I don’t see why they can’t be protected with glass. It would be such a shame to lose them, especially if there is a solution.
    I had no idea that bats were at risk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. quercuscommunity Post author

      That’s an interesting post. I noticed the serving dish for parsnip/potatoes and thought “Ha! So I’m not the only one who does that.” but I won’t mention it in case you get in trouble with Jackie again. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sharon

    A dilemma, fascinating painting but I think I agree with Tootlepedal and go with preserving the bats. No one seems to be a fan of bats where I live, poor little buggers, most people would shoot them, if it was not illegal to do so. The link to zoonotic diseases is making them even more unpopular. Our local bats or flying foxes were the subject of my earth day post, I figured since they are also getting the blame for corona virus they could use someone sticking up for them.
    The church and it’s art does look fascinating though.

    Liked by 1 person


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