We are delighted with the results of the painstaking work completed by Dr Andrea Kirkham, a specialist in the conservation of wall paintings. Andrea identified up to 3 layers of texts and decoration in the painting towards the front of the church, the top and most visible layer dating from around 1630. The layer beneath is also from the early 1600s and is identified particularly from the deep red arcs of paint. The Friends group will be developing more information about the project and the paintings, but in the meantime here is a brief summary together with 'before' and 'after' pictures.
East end texts (towards front of church)
The rather ugly repairs have disappeared and although a lot of the words are missing, those that remain gave us early clues about the text referred to. The word “Solomon” and the number “15” led us to the book of Proverbs, which from chapter 10 are described as the proverbs of Solomon in the Authorised King James translation.
We are now sure that the original text is a quote from Proverbs 15:3 KJV and would have read:
“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good saith Solomon”
Saith is an old version of the present day word say.
West end texts (towards back of church)
Here we can see a lot more letters but we have so far been unable to identify the text referred to in the painting. We can also see some parts of letters from the previous layer which was covered by a thin whitewash which makes interpretation more difficult. We can’t promise a prize to whoever solves it – but all ideas will be welcome. Remember that it’s the Authorised King James version you need to be looking at!
The fragments (on the wall of the children's corner)
The wooden frame opposite the vestry door has been completely indecipherable since fragments of wall paintings from other parts of the church were placed together many years ago, and we did not hold out much hope for making much sense of them. However they proved to be a real bonus! We can now see scraps of text and decoration which tie in with the material in the two main texts. Thanks to Andrea’s work, enhanced by improvements to the frame by Edwin Jones, it’s possible to imagine that the church once contained large stretches of wall paintings.
If you come and visit the church and the paintings, we would love to hear from you and what you think of them now.
Our next Welcome Afternoon is Saturday 13th July 2-4 pm where there will be people who can talk you through the work done, while you can explore the church, ring the bells and even try the organ.