Dr Ellie Pridgeon FSA promoting the study of medieval wall paintings

Wall Paintings, Lakenheath, Suffolk

on June 15, 2012

Follow this link for an extremely informative website about the wall paintings at Lakenheath in Suffolk.  The site provides extensive information about the initial survey work carried out by Tobit Curteis Associates in 2003, and the subsequent conservation undertaken by Perry Lithgow Partnership in 2009.

Uncovered in the second half of the nineteenth century, the wall paintings consist of at least five different identified schemes.  The earliest dates from c.1220 and includes a number of angels, as well as linear scrollwork and dot decoration.

The second scheme (c.1330) comprises painted spandrel patterns and scrollwork, and fictive drapery with painted fringe (located on the large pillar opposite the south door).  The splay above contains  black tree-like scrollwork with a bird seated in the branches.  A definitive interpretation of this image has yet to be offered.

The third scheme dates from c.1350 and includes full-length figures of angels and Apostles, including St Paul (with a sword) and St James the Great (carrying a pilgrim’s staff).  The enthroned Virgin and Child and St Edmund (located on the large pillar) also date from this period.  Above is a contemporary Passion cycle, unusual because the scenes are chronologically inaccurate, and because it includes a Harrowing of Hell scene.

Virgin and Child, Lakenheath.

The fourth scheme dates from c.1480 and consists of a fragmented St George on the north nave arcade, and a full-length risen Christ on the south side of the chancel arch.  The latter painting is high-quality and was created in the ‘grisaille’ style, highlighted with red and gold (similar in technique – though not in quality – to the Eton College Chapel wall paintings).

The final scheme dates from c.1610 and includes painted post-Reformation text in decorated borders.  These were repainted at least four or five times before they were lime-washed over in the 18th century.

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