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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Lathbury, Buckinghamshire (†Oxford) Late C.14/Early C.15

The Seven Works of Mercy – Burying the Dead

Burying the Dead (?Seven Works of Mercy), Lathbury

All the paintings at Lathbury – and there are many – are fragmentary and very confusing. There is though, a subject painted high above the nave arcade which seems to be the Seven Works of Mercy. The photograph at the left shows the clearest part of it, Burying the Dead. Several people, in attitudes of mourning, stand around a bier (it has trestle legs in green) on which lies a shrouded body. The confused details above probably belong to a later, superimposed subject.

There are a few other details, spread over a large area of wall, which seem to be part of the other six Works of Mercy; for example nearby is part of a barrel-vaulted building with a man perhaps in pilgrim’s garb standing in its doorway and two men kneeling outside. There are also other subjects; one of them, newly on this site, a very fine Virgin intervening at the Weighing of Souls. It was probably related to the fragmentary Doom over the chancel arch, but almost nothing is left of this now.