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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Peakirk, Northamptonshire (†Peterborough) c.1320

The Warning Against Idle Gossip

Warning against Idle Gossip, Peakirk

This example is in the north aisle, above the north door of this extensively painted church. It may by now have been restored, but when this photograph was taken in 1997 it was in a faded state, as can be seen. But the heads of the two gossiping women show fairly well, as does most of the devil whose hands can be seen clasping them. His bat-like wings have largely gone, but the barbs projecting from his elbows are still visible. The woman on the right wears a dark surcoat with openings at the sides, into one of which her left hand is thruSt This garment was fashionable in the 1320s, and the openings may have been there to give access to a purse, rosary, or some other item hanging from the girdle around the under-dress below. The woman on the left seems to be wearing a more voluminous mantle with white sleeves. Both wear white headdresses and something of their facial expressions can still be seen – the woman on the right is visibly smirking.

There are traces of painting to the left of this subject, and they are said to have included a second St Christopher in addition to the one interrupting the Passion Cycle in the north arcade. To the left – beyond the vertical dividing border painted, like all the borders at Peakirk, as illusionistic 3-dimensional architecture – is the Three Living & The Three Dead.

† in page heading = Diocese