Dr Ellie Pridgeon promoting the study of medieval wall paintings

Medieval Wall Painting: Travels in Bulgaria

Ivanovo Rock Monastery is located 20km south of Rousse in northern Bulgaria, and is set about 32 metres above the Rusenski Lom river.


Holy Virgin’s church, Ivanovo Rock Monastery









Rock-hewn monasteries were popular in medieval Bulgaria, and there is a long tradition of churches in caves.   Ivanovo was founded in the thirteenth century, and consists of cells, churches and chapels carved out of solid rock.  The monastery complex once consisted of c.40 churches, but most do not survive today.

Holy Virgin’s church, Ivanovo Rock Monastery

The Holy Virgin’s rock church, which consists of two cells and a small chapel, was constructed and painted with financial support of Tsar Ivan Alexander.  The murals are of exceptional quality for 14th century Bulgarian art, and are a blend of Bulgarian and Hellenistic styles.   Scenes include the Passion, the Life of St John the Baptist, and the lives of the early Syrian Christian hermits (in the chapel).  Images in the narthex include saints, as well as donors Tsar Ivan Alexander and Tsarina Theodora presenting a model cave.


Holy Virgin’s church, Ivanovo Rock Monastery











Ivanovo Rock Monastery is a UNESCO world heritage site.

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Monumental Brasses and Medieval Wall Painting – Cirencester 2014

Saturday September 27th 2014


The annual Monumental Brass Society Study Day will take place at Cirencester this year.   It will focus on the 16 pre-Reformation brasses in the church of St John the Baptist, the finest collection to be found in the Cotswolds.   These form an impressive series commemorating clergy and parishioners alike.

Robert Pagge, Cirencester











The Study Day will focus on these memorials together with the influence of Bishop Chedworth who was buried in Lincoln Cathedral, but commemorated at Cirencester.  Dr Miriam Gill (University of Leicester) will be talking about Chedworth’s chapel, and will discuss the medieval wall painting still extant today.

Cirencester, Gloucestershire2

St Christopher wall painting, Cirencester












Other speakers include Sally Badham, Rupert Webber, and Peter Fleming (UWE)

MBS and non-MBS members are both welcome to attend.  Click here for the booking form.

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Angela Smith, A Timelime of Art History

A Timeline of Art History (2013) is the latest contribution to historical studies from the innovative The Book Forge press.  The book is a chronological guide to the key examples of world art and architecture.  It is primarily a reference book for students of Art History, but also an essential read for anyone with an interest in cultural history.  As Smith points out, timelines are essential as they contribute to the understanding of change and development in visual history.  The book is illustrated with high-quality and informative colour plates.

A Timeline of Art History chronicles major works of art and architecture from 75,000 BC – with the Paleolithic cave people at Blombos in South Africa engraving ochre with abstract patterns – to Leo Villareal’s 2013 sculpture The Bay Lights on the San Francisco suspension bridge.  Smith also includes references to European fresco painters, such as Giotto’s involvement with the Upper Church of San Francesco, Assisi (1296), and Michelangelo’s creation of The Last Judgement in the Sistine Chapel (begun 1535).

Dr Angela Smith studied History of Art at the University of Leicester, and gained a PhD from the Warburg Institute, University of London.  She is a freelance scholar and lecturer who has taught for a number of organisations, including the University of Leicester, Bishop Grosseteste University, and NADFAS.

Timeline of Art History is available on The Book Forge website, or on Amazon.

Remember to follow The Book Forge on Twitter and Facebook.

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Rosewell, Medieval Wall Paintings, Shire 2014


Medieval Wall Paintings (2014) is the latest of Roger Rosewell’s Shire publications.  This excellent guide to mural painting in England, Wales and Scotland, examines imagery from the Romanesque period to the post-Reformation era.

Medieval Wall Paintings - Shire Library 767

Highlights include the high-quality and detailed photographs, largely taken by Rosewell himself, who is a member of the Royal Photographic Society.  This book is highly-recommended for wall painting novices and experts alike.

Rosewell has also written: Stained Glass (Shire 2012) and The Medieval Monastery (Shire 2012).

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Piccotts End Cottage Appeal

The Dacorum Heritage Trust Ltd (DHT) is the Accredited Museum for the area of Dacorum, and is based in a converted fire station in Berkhamsted.  They have recently launched an appeal to purchase the Grade I listed medieval cottage at Piccotts End in Hemel Hempstead.  The aim is to establish an interpretation centre in the cottage and open up the property to the public.

Piccotts End

Pieta, Christ in Majesty and Baptism of Christ, Piccotts End, Hemel Hempstead


The paintings were discovered during restoration work on the cottage in 1953.  The late-fifteenth-century panels include Christ in Majesty, the Baptism of Christ, a Pieta, St Peter, St Clement, St Catherine and St Margaret of Antioch.




Click on this link to find out more and donate to the appeal.

Thanks to Nicola Lowe for drawing my attention to this project.

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Adam Easton and the Lutterworth Wall Paintings Revisited

Conference: Adam Easton: Monk, Scholar, Theologian, Diplomat and Cardinal

Dr Miriam Gill (University of Leicester) will be re-assessing the connection between Adam Easton, John Wyclif and the Lutterworth wall paintings (Leicestershire).

10th-11th April 2014, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

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European Influences on Scandinavian Visual Culture, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

March 4th 2014

This session, which focuses on the exchange of styles and ideas between Scandinavia and Europe, will include an examination of Scandinavian wall painting.  Watch this space for a more detailed discussion over the next few weeks.  

Speakers include Dr Alex Fried (University of Gothenburg), Dr Katja Fält (University of Jyväskylä), and Dr Ellie Pridgeon (University of Leicester).

Spot the difference: fifteenth-century wall paintings from England and Sweden.

St Christopher, Cullompton, Devon (lost)

St Christopher, Kävlinge Old Church, Sweden

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Lacock Abbey: Wall Painting Conservation Archive

Sue Sharp (Birkbeck, University of London) and I recently examined the Lacock Abbey wall painting conservation archive, which is held by the National Trust.  The aim of our research is to establish the precise function of the space in the Abbey commonly (and erroneously) referred to as the ‘Chaplains’ Room’.  We are also considering the precise function of the wall paintings, and tracing the probable patrons.  The archive, which contains reports describing conservation and environmental monitoring by numerous firms and individuals over the last three decades, has been helpful in establishing the approximate dating of the paintings.  It is likely that our findings will be published in 2015.

Chaplains Room

‘Chaplains’ Room’, Lacock Abbey. What was the real function of this space?

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Project Update – St Cadoc’s Church, Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan

In recent months, there has been extensive coverage in both the national press and among medieval online communities concerning the discovery and conservation of the late-fifteenth-century wall paintings at St Cadoc’s church, Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan.  Over the last six years, renowned conservators Ann Ballantyne and Jane Rutherfoord have revealed a number of highly-significant schemes, including Death and the Gallant, St George and the Dragon, and the Seven Deadly Sins.

St Cadoc

St George and the Dragon, St Cadoc’s Church, Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan. Late Fifteenth Century.

In a recent video interview produced by the BBC, Jane Rutherfoord explains how back in 2007, she was invited by St Cadoc’s church architect to provide advice on the significance of a thin red line visible below the roof line, the only section of the wall paintings perceptible at the time.  The subsequent removal of overlying layers of limewash led to the discovery of two heads belonging to the princess and king, who feature commonly in St George scenes.  Also interviewed by the BBC was Dr Madeline Gray, Reader in History at the University of South Wales, who suggests that the image of St George – a figure who medieval parishioners strived to emulate – was deliberately juxtaposed with the Seven Deadly Sins – transgressions which conversely congregations endeavoured to avoid.  Dr Gray also sheds light on the Death and the Gallant mural, which depicts a fashionably-dressed young man (the Gallant) dragged into a graveyard by Death, who is portrayed as a rotting corpse wrapped in a shroud.

St Cadoc2

Gules 3 Swan Proper Bawdrip heraldic shield (top centre) and Seven Deadly Sins (detail, left), St Cadoc’s Church, Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan. Late Fifteenth Century.

The work is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, CADW, and local trusts.  The project website provides further information about the wall paintings, and includes a discussion of the Gules 3 Swan Proper heraldic shield located above the diminutive Virgin, whose key functions are to bless and highlight the figure of St George.  This device denotes the Bawdrip family who lived at nearby Penmark Place from the fourteenth century, and it was no-doubt strategically positioned to ensure enhanced invocation and intercession from the Virgin.  The Bawdrip shield also functioned as a symbol of familial status and piety, whose target audiences included earthly visitors to the church and God himself.  The insertion of the shield may also indicate that members of the family were responsible for providing funds towards the execution of the painting.

For further details about the iconography of the Seven Deadly Sins in medieval wall painting, readers should refer to the website of Dr Miriam Gill (University of Leicester).

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Medieval Wall Paintings: Video Link

Professor David Park (Courtauld Institute) talks about the MA in Conservation of Wall Paintings and the National Survey of Medieval Wall Painting:


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