Dr Ellie Pridgeon FSA promoting the study of medieval wall paintings

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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Digital Wall Paintings: 3D Model of the Guild Chapel, Stratford-upon-Avon

University of York researchers Dr Kate Giles, Dr Anthony Masinton and Geoff Arnott have created an online digital model of the interior of the guild chapel at Stratford.  The reconstruction is based on evidence found in archival sources and drawings by antiquarians such as Thomas Fisher and Wilfrid Puddephat.

Doom Painting, Nave. Photograph by T. Marshall.

The guild chapel was rebuilt and redecorated in the late fifteenth century, and included a number of significant wall painting schemes paid for by the London mayor and Stratford merchant Hugh Clopton, a leading member of the Holy Cross guild.  The 1804 chapel restoration saw the removal of plaster, which revealed Holy Cross scenes on the north and south walls, a Doom over the chancel arch (still partially extant), and a series of saints in alcoves in the nave.  A Dance of Death was also recorded on the north nave wall.

The project is is an important example of how digital technology can be used for the study of medieval buildings and wall painting.

The research is written up in: Internet Archaeology, Vol. 32, 2012.

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Church Monuments Society Excursion: October 12th 2013

There are just a few places left on the Church Monuments Society excursion to Gloucestershire.  We plan to visit the following churches: Sapperton (Purbeck marble coffin lid, fine monuments of 1574, 1630 and 1711, various wall tablets and good churchyard monuments), Miserden, Fairford (3 figure brasses 1500-1534, tombchest 1585, range of wall tablets, woodwork including misericords and exceptional stained glass ), Coberley (carved monuments of 1294, 1340 and 1365 and various wall tablets) and Down Ampney (carved monuments of 1315, 1320, 1754, unusual coffin lid, indent of early inscription brass).

For further information please see our website or email Dr Ellie Pridgeon:

Both members non-members welcome.

Heart effigy, Coberley, Gloucestershire

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Medieval Wall Painting Research: Harlaxton Symposium 2013

A number of conference papers at the 2013 Harlaxton Medieval Symposium demonstrated how academics are currently using medieval wall paintings in their research.

Dr David Griffiths (University of Birmingham) discussed the multimedia appeal of short rhyming texts on buildings, such as the inscription from John Lydgate’s ‘A Balade at the Reverence of Our Lady’ displayed in the Clopton chantry at Long Melford (Suffolk).  David’s paper also included an examination of the lost Hungerford Chapel inscriptions and murals at Salisbury Cathedral – to be discussed in his forthcoming book (2014).

By examining images such as warning to gossips and warning to swearers, Dr Sarah MacMillan (University of Birmingham) explored differing ways in which women and men were depicted in the medieval parish church.

Another significant paper was presented by Dr Elizabeth New (Aberystwyth University), who introduced the recently-launched AHRC-funded Exploring Medieval Seals project based in the Department of History & Welsh History.  Following the success of Seals in Medieval Wales 1200-1550Exploring Medieval Seals aims both to develop outreach work in the wider community and to exchange knowledge with the archive sector.  Led by Professor Phillipp Schofield, with Dr Elizabeth New and Dr John McEwan, Exploring Medieval Seals runs until January 2014.

Martyrdom of St. Catherine, Castor [118KB]

Life of St Catherine, Castor.

The Harlaxton Medieval Symposium included a visit to Castor church (Cambridgeshire), best known for the fourteenth-century wall painting depicting the life of St Catherine.

Tweets from the 2013 Harlaxton Medieval Symposium can found at: #harlaxton13

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Leeds IMC 2013 Sessions

July 1st 2013 – Modern Medievalists and Avant- Archivists: The Role of Traditional Archival Skills in the 21st Century – A Round Table Discussion.  Leeds International Medieval Congress.  Participants include Dr Sean Cunningham (The National Archives) Jackie Depelle (Your Fair Ladies, Pudsey), Dr Paul Dryburgh (Borthwick Institute for Archives), Dr Charlotte Harrison (University of Liverpool), Dr Nick Kingsley (The National Archives), Dr Chris Lewis (University of London), and Dr Ellie Pridgeon (University of Leicester Science Museum).  7.30pm.

Sponsors: Borthwick Institute for Archives, University of York / Centre for Archive Studies, University of Liverpool / Science Museum, London

July 4th 2013 – July 4th 2013 – St Eligius and the Miracle of the Horseshoe: A Fifteenth Century Wall Painting at Highworth Church, Wiltshire.  Paper to be delivered by Dr Ellie Pridgeon in the Hagiography Society session at Leeds International Medieval Congress 2013.

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