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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Wickhamford, Worcestershire (†Worcester) C.15

The Virgin and Child

Virgin & Child, Wickhamford

Paintings of the Virgin and Child alone, simply as standing ‘devotional’ figures, are now quite rare in the English church, and this is probably because there were once so many statues of this figure group in stone and in wood – small carved wooden figures were within the means of even the poorest churches.

This example is on the chancel arch wall, to the right of the arch. The Virgin has a blue robe and shoes of a similar colour, and a mantle now reduced to off-white. This might once have been gold. She stands against a red background, holding the Christ Child in her right arm. Both figures have haloes; the Virgin herself seems to be holding a very narrow wand or sceptre, and the Child is holding something that is almost certainly an orb of the world. Facial features and other detailing have faded into blankness, giving an air of silhouetted purity to the painting. It is very competently executed and would no doubt have been much prized by the church and by local people.

Caiger-Smith records a St Christopher at Wickhamford, but I could find no trace of it. There is though a particularly fine royal arms of 1681 above the chancel arch. Below is an earlier Royal Arms, possibly of King James 1/V1, and below that are traces of medieval foliage decoration which might once have surrounded the Rood.

Website for St John the Baptist, Wickhamford