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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Seething, Norfolk (†Norwich) C.15

Passion Cycle

Resurrection, Seething

Three very faint key scenes from a Passion Cycle remain on the North wall. From west to east they are the Crucifixion (or perhaps the Deposition – it is now hard to be sure, Resurrection, and the (much rarer) Ascension. The Crucifixion is too dilapidated to show here, but to the east (right) of this, the Resurrection (detail, left) is clearer. Christ steps out of a conventional, classical-style sarcophagus, right hand raised in blessing and left hand holding the narrow staff of the banner of the Resurrection. He is flanked by two angels, the clearer of them at the right, with hands clasped in prayer and large impressive wings.

Ascension, Seething

All the faces have been energetically obliterated, whether at the Reformation or some later date.

Beyond to the right is the Ascension (detail, right). Here, several figures stand looking up at Christ’s pierced feet disappearing into the heavens. Among them, slightly left of centre, is the Virgin Mary, in ample draperies and with hands clasped in prayer. She is the only one wearing visible shoes (in blue, on the lower border of the painting) – in accordance with a convention that makes the painting of her barefoot at Martley exceptional. Few examples of either of these scenes, particularly the Ascension, remain in English parish churches now.

There are other paintings in the church, including a forthcoming Coronation of the Virgin, (not the Assumption, as the church leaflet suggests) also with well-scrubbed faces, and a very faded example of the Warning Against Idle Gossip.

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