Thursday, 7 April 2016

Finding thrilling frescos

Little Missenden
On recent cycle rides I have popped into two particular churches: Little Missenden, a village near Amersham and Little Kimble, a parish that nestles beneath the Chilterns escarpment near Aylesbury. Both possess lovely wall paintings.

St John Little Missenden survived Tudor and Victorian alterations and there are traces of wall paintings high on the north nave wall including St Christopher carrying Christ as a child and texts from the 1600’s.

St George on guard in Little Kimble
All Saints Little Kimble looks like one of those cemetery chapels, however inside is a simple two-cell (nave and chancel) plan and full of light. On the north wall a striking St George who appears to stand guard over delicate the medieval glass in a lancet window.  The painting of St George is just one in the best assembly of wall paintings in the country and nicely restored.

As soon internal church walls began to be covered with smooth plaster the idea of painting on them began. Even in Saxon times there were a few stone churches and some of these must have had paintings. This continued down to the English Reformation, where the story effectively ends in successive waves destruction.  It is hard to imagine how wonderful these walls must have appeared and how important they were in Christian education.