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Medieval Wall Painting
in the
English Parish Church

Widford, Hertfordshire (†St Albans) c.1300

Christ in Judgement, Widford

Christ in Judgement, Widford

On the north side of the chancel, the figure of Christ in Judgement, seated on a rainbow with hands raised, is easy enough to identify, but the remarkable detail here is the inclusion of what seems to be the ‘sharp, two-edged sword’ of Revelation 1:16. Although not unique, the detail is very unusual in the English parish church. There is something broadly similar and roughly contemporary at Bishopsbourne in Kent, where Christ has a number of swords arranged around his head in a similar way (it is even more puzzling than the Widford example, but it will be on the site soon).

The painting as we have it cannot be more than a fragment of something originally much larger, but the only other detail now remaining is a small figure holding something that might be an Instrument of the Passion at the far left, by the edge of an open arch. It is clear from the position of this figure that there were once more details further left on the chancel wall but these were destroyed when the arch was created.

There are other paintings here, on the east or altar wall of the chancel, where a figure of a saint(?) is painted on either side of the altar. One (on the south) is vested as a bishop, but he remains unidentified beyond this. These two figures were thought by Tristram to be later than the Christ in Judgement and to have been painted around 1340.

From an architectural point of view Widford is particularly interesting. It might once have had an Easter Sepulchre very unusually positioned on the south side of the chancel. In addition to this, both its north and south doors are original, dating from around 1286.

Website for St John the Baptist, Widford