Skip to Content

Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Little Tey, Essex († Chelmsford) Early C.14

Passion Cycle

Little Tey, Essex, interior looking east

A very important and high quality Passion Cycle discovered only in 1970. The church is apsidal, and paintings – the Passion Cycle itself and a few others – are on all the walls including the curved walls of the apse itself. They are now unfortunately very faint, many to the point of indecipherability.

Little Tey, Passion Cycle, detail, Washing of Feet

On the north wall from the west (left), the visible parts of the Cycle begin with the Last Supper. Peter is discernible, and John, who is painted leaning ‘in Christ’s bosom’. Judas is alone on the opposite side of the table, as is common. Next comes the Washing of Feet (photo, showing fairly clearly the towel girded around Christ’s waist, and faint traces of one of the disciples, probably Peter, sitting at a slightly right),higher level to the right. This scene is to the right of the second window shown at the left in the upper photograph. Next in the sequence, curving around the apse, are the Arrest in Gethsamene, followed by the Road to Calvary (or perhaps the Flagellation), the Crucifixion (with John, Longinus and Stephaton just visible), and the Entombment (very little left). The apse meets the south wall at this point with paintings of the Harrowing of Hell and the Appearance to Mary Magdalene, both comparatively rare subjects. This completes the Passion Cycle as we have it.

It is to be hoped that no heavy-handed restoration takes place at Little Tey, but the paintings need, and certainly deserve, careful conservation nevertheless.