Skip to Content

Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Attleborough, Norfolk (†Norwich), C.15

Christ in Majesty

Christ in Majesty, Attleborough

This must have been a very impressive painting indeed at one time, but it has suffered some vicissitudes. Formerly blocked windows have been reopened, and the painting beneath them has gone as a result. The ‘enormous Cross’ described by Caiger-Smith¹ has vanished (the short vertical piece at the top centre is probably modern). The background has also been whitewashed over, obliterating some further details.

According to Caiger-Smith, the now very obscure area of painting above the shield once included the Annunciation, and the figures around the upper window opening are Moses, David, Jeremiah and another prophet, along with two angels bearing the Instruments of the Passion. This is probably correct; the angel at the right may hold the Scourge, and the figure next to it (Moses?) has a scroll over his head which might have identified him, the figure next right beside the opening seems to have a crown and may be King David. Another scroll is above the head of the figure second from the right, and this may be Jeremiah or another prophet.

Virgin and censing angel, Attleborough

The horizontal band of painting below these figures is impossible to comment on since no detail is left, but it may have been purely ornamental.

Below this, things are a little clearer, and the two figures at the left (photo, right) are the Virgin and a censing angel. This angel, and its partner on the right with St John, are the most interesting individuals in the painting, murky and obscure as they are. They are, undoubtedly, rather squat, stocky figures, swinging their censers purposefully, and they lack the grace of many angelic figures in other paintings. But they wear the feathered trousers best seen on this site in the painting of St Michael Weighing Souls at South Leigh, strengthening the belief that the costuming of the Mystery Plays had an influence on the wall painting of the fifteenth century (discussed in more detail on the South Leigh page).

There may once have been the standard Doom details – devils, a Mouth of Hell, the damned, and so on in other areas here. There is space for these, but it is impossible to be sure now.

Also at Attleborough is a rather fragmentary St Christopher over the south door, contemporary with this Christ in Majesty. There were probably many other paintings here once.

Website for Church of the Assumption, Attleborough