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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Ashley, Hampshire (†CCT) C.15

St Catherine or another female saint

St Catherine, Ashley, Hampshire

The tiny church of St Mary in Ashley has lost any paintings it may once have had, apart from this one, in a window splay in the chancel and easy to miss. And I am by no means certain that this is St Catherine, but she holds a book (testifying to her intellectual prowess) and also a sword, as the instrument of her martyrdom, or possibly a palm branch to identify her as a saint. There is no sign of a dragon to suggest that she is in fact St Margaret, or a tower, suggesting instead St Barbara, so all in all, St Catherine seems the likeliest candidate. Like thousands of others, the church itself is dedicated to St Mary, and it does not seem to have been noticed by any earlier writer on this subject. The painting is quite an accomplished piece of work, with the saint’s hands quite elegant and well-articulated, and what can be seen of her draperies handled with similar confidence. The highly decorative illusionistic canopy under which she stands is also confidently rendered.