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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Martlesham, Suffolk (†St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) C.15

St Christopher

St Christopher, Martlesham

It was described as ‘a magnificent fragment’ by HC Whaite¹, who drew it in 1928, but it had lost much detail by then, and has lost more since. Most of the lower part of St Christopher himself has gone, but at 5 feet wide it is still impressive. Christopher has a short tunic, a bluish cloak looped around and over his shoulders, and a stout staff. Whaite’s drawing shows large buttons down the front of the tunic, a belt and possibly a rosary similar to that at Layer Marney in Essex.

St Christopher’s head is very unclear now, but his forked and rather shaggy beard is clearer. The Christ Child, on his right shoulder, extends his right hand in blessing and holds in his left an orb of the world, with a square banner showing a cross, all now reduced to a few sketchy lines. Traces of a flowing twisted rope design, visible at the top, once formed a wide border of a kind found in other St Christopher paintings, in particular a forthcoming one at Horley in Oxfordshire, and usually indicative of a fairly late date in the 15th century, rather than the late 14th/early 15th century period suggested by Whaite.

Website for St Mary the Virgin, Martlesham

¹ HC Whaite, St Christopher in Medieval Wall Painting, 1929, p.22 & Plate 11
† in page heading = Diocese