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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Bishopsbourne, Kent (†Canterbury) C.14

Martyrdom of St Edmund

Martyrdom of St Edmund, Bishopsbourne, Kent

This painting is unsophisticated and rustic, but eloquent all the same. There is a wiry, linear energy in the rendering of the figures, particularly the archer at the right, his face made deliberately ugly as befits a pagan torturer of a Christian king. The longbows have an oddly rough-hewn look, as if hastily constructed specifically for their purpose.

Edmund stands in the centre, with another archer, much of his figure missing, at the left. His hands are crossed, perhaps tied, and his body is already pierced by six very large arrows, painted in careful detail. The splaying of his fingers (right hand) and toes might be intended to suggest a body tensed against physical agony.

The red-outline masonry pattern against which the figures stand forms the background to most of the painting in the church. There are several, and one of them, the Weighing of Souls is newly on the site. Another painting of St Nicholas with the three boys in the barrel is also new at this update (find it from the table below) and there is also a Doom with some unusual features. This too will be added soon.