Skip to Content

Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Belton, Suffolk?* (†Norwich) mid C.15

St Christopher

*NB: or Norfolk, where Clive Rouse puts it. It is east of the Waveney/Yare estuary, near Burgh Castle

St Christopher, Belton

This is a good example of 15th century repainting of the walls. Initial uncovering of the south wall in 1848 found only the lower half of the painting, showing St Christopher’s legs and feet. Superimposed on the upper half was a very fine painting of the Three Living and the Three Dead. Certainly this latter painting was clearly visible when it was seen by at least three writers on the subject¹. So matters seem to have rested until comparatively recently, because the leaflet in the church, undated but produced some time after 1972, describes The Three Living and the Three Dead in some detail².

Fortunately a copy of it hangs in the church, reproduced in miniature below* and clicking it will take you to a new page dealing with it. The original painting must have deteriorated very quickly in the last 30 years, since a decision was evidently made to sacrifice the central part of it in order to uncover the rest of the St Christopher.

copy of Three Living & Three Dead, Belton

The existing painting is a fine one, nevertheless. The Saint is rather more elegantly dressed, in dignified if short robes, than he often is. He is a very large figure and his confidently placed feet might well be straddling the river completely. Fish and eels of various kinds swim around them. The Christ Child, held on Christopher’s shoulder at the right has almost disappeared, but he seems to have been holding up his right hand in blessing.

Website for Belton church

¹ EW Tristram, HC Whaite, MR James (Bibliography)
* Photograph reproduced by kind permission of Professor Fred Kloppenborg