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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Thorpe Mandeville, Northamptonshire (†Peterborough) C.14/15

St Christopher

St Christopher, Thorpe Mandeville, Northamptonshire

Apart from a few fragments of pigment – probably where Christopher’s feet once were – lower down on the north wall below the blocked north door visible at the lower edge of the photograph, this is all that remains of the painting. There is enough, though, to suggest that this is the work of an accomplished painter. At the top of the visible painted area are two narrow speech scrolls, no doubt representing the conversation between Christopher and the Christ Child. These are illegible now, but probably once bore the same inscriptions as the example at Horley in Oxfordshire. Other similarities – Christopher’s forked beard and the Child’s position on his shoulder – make me wonder if both could have been the work of the same painter, but this cannot be more than speculation now.

At Horley, though, Christopher’s staff, not yet flowering, I think (the stylized blooms on his other side are probably trees on the riverbank towards which the saint is wading) is held in his right hand, although little is left of it now. The Child, who is probably riding piggy-back style, as at Ashby St Ledgers, holds up his right hand in a gesture of blessing, and carries the orb of the world in his left. His ‘walrus’ moustache (an unusual feature) is impressive, which suggests to me that this is a fifteenth, not a fourteenth, century painting.

Thorpe Mandeville is an interesting church whose parish registers date from 1559. These are now kept at Northampton Records Office, however.

Website for St John the Baptist church, Thorpe Mandeville

† in page heading = Diocese