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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Layer Marney, Essex (†Chelmsford) Later C.15

St Christopher

St Christopher, Layer Marney

Although the church at Layer Marney was rebuilt in the 16th century by the lords of the adjoining manor house, this painting is earlier, dating almost certainly from the second half of the 15th century. One particular detail, St Christopher’s large rosary hanging from his belt, is comparable with a similar one in the example at Bramley in Hampshire, which was painted at around the same time.

Christopher, his staff beginning to flower, stands in the middle of the river, turning his head to look at the Christ Child on his right shoulder. There are, as usual, various fish (and some eels) around his legs, including, at the left beside the end of his staff, a floppy-eared, dog-like fish resembling the contemporary example at Horley, Oxfordshire, which will be on here soon.

On the left bank of the river, a boy, tiny beside the giant saint, stands fishing. At the right, an area of very dark green pigment with a horizontal block of colour in a slightly lighter shade at the top, is later, and must date from after the 16th century rebuilding. Other faint details in red ochre at the top of the painting may be the remains of contextual scenes, or something from another, earlier, painting.

Layer Marney also has some very fine effigy tombs of the Marney family, spanning a period from about 1360 to 1525, and in the Marney chantry chapel in the north aisle, a very rare brick fireplace, for the benefit of the bedesmen who were appointed to pray for the souls of the lords of the manor.

Website for Layer Marney church

† in page heading = Diocese