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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Hardley Street, Norfolk (†Norwich) C.15

St Catherine

St Catherine, Hardley Street St Catherine, Hardley Street

St Catherine, with the loose hair and crown of a virgin saint, stands, holding her usual attribute, the wheel, beside a large painting of St Christopher. The wheel is spiked, with savage-looking protrusions around the rim. Despite this, it failed to kill the saint, and there is a full description of the aftermath of the attempt on the page for the very full Life of St Catherine at Sporle.

In fact, paintings of Catherine simply standing and holding the wheel, as here and at Old Weston are relatively uncommon in the English Church. The surviving paintings are more likely to show incidents from her life, as at the already mentioned Sporle and Castor.

This painting and the St Christopher beside it are on the south wall, opposite the north door which is the normal entrance now and seems to have been so even in the Middle Ages. Hardley Street is a fairly remote place, even by the standards of south Norfolk; this painting and the St Christopher must have had some restorative or at least basic conservatory attention since medieval times, but not much is recorded about them, and I suspect that they may have remained untouched otherwise.