|Model Parish Church WALL
In the Middle Ages wall painting was a common decoration of churches.
Painting was prevalent because of its low cost, as opposed to stained glass
or sculpture, At the same time; wall paintings were also the most vulnerable.
Painted colors fade and the plaster surface deteriorate. The extensive
paintings of the nave in Pickering's parish church
in North Yorkshire show a typical placement. Opposite the entrance porch,
thus visible at first glance, are immense images of St. George and St.
Christopher. George defended against evil and Christopher,
striding through the stream with the Christ Child on his shoulder, was
the protector of travelers.
Towards the east one sees the Coronation of the Virgin
by the Trinity set above an image of John the Baptist at Herod's feast.
Closest to the altar appear the martyrdom of Thomas Becket at Canterbury
and the Saxon
On the south are stories of a more didactic nature. The area closest to the altar is dedicated to a four level narrative of the Passion of St. Catherine. The horizontal sequence stretching over the arches shows the Works of Mercy followed by, and in a sense contrasting, Christ's Passion (Arrest, Judgement before Pilate, Flagellation, Carrying Cross, Death, Deposition, and Burial). Below, are images of Christ's resurrection and his descent into hell, freeing the souls from the dragon's mouth. Above, set between the windows, appear images of Christ's Ascension and the Virgin's Assumption. Undoubtedly, Pickering would have had an image of the Last Judgement, or "Doom", above the chancel arch, now blank.
After Henry VIII's break with the Roman church, paintings with their "feigned" stories were systematically whitewashed. The paintings at Pickering were discovered in the mid 19th century, and then covered over again by a priest who found both their message and form unacceptable. In the late 19th century, a time of greater interest in the past as well as a more ritualized church, local archeologists removed the whitewash. The restoration of the paintings, following the ideas of the time, involved extensive infill, particularly noticeable in the lower sections.