Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Brighton Wall Painting

We had a Deanery meeting in Preston Park, north Brighton, on the way back I walked down to the main road to catch a bus and dropped into the old Anglican Church and discovered this on the wall:

It is the Martyrdom of St Thomas Becket from the 13th century, notice the cubic, veiled, free standing altar. There was a fire in the 20th century in the Church which destroyed alot of painting, there is a watercolour from 1880 showing what was revealed in the 19th century, when the whitewash of the Reformation iconoclasts was removed.

Interesting, that the martyrdom of St Thomas is mixed in with the normal schema of eschatological subjects one might expect on an east nave wall. It is perhaps a century later, and much cruder than the Christ in Majesty at Clayton in the tiny Saxon church there, which is a mile or so further north.
The Clayton wall paintings are incredibly moving, I was staying in the village one weekend and knew nothing about them and wandered into the little unprepossessing church, they are breathtaking.
The photographs don't really do them justice, the colours in both churches are red and yellow clay with a little soot black. The limited palette only seems to add to their beauty. There are one or two other examples of such paintings in the area. It is likely they are all the work of painters from the Cluniac Monastery of Lewes Priory.

14 comments:

Terry said...

This is beautiful and interesting blog material, a perfect posting that one would hope for from a priest.
Thank you.

Please support me by rejecting a blogger in your bloglist. The use of walking aids and old people as a source of humour by an American priest whose intial ends the alphabet is horrible.
I defy any loving Catholic priest not to be disturbed by this.
Thank you

Paul, Bedfordshire said...

Is the scene from 17th or 18th centuries when "to North Side"services were common and the artist projects this back in time?

or is the scene of St thomas' Martyrdom pre ref or copied from a pre ref original destroyed in the fire ?

..in which case the rather modern looking Altar is of great historical interest!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Terry, I don't know who this priest is, does he himself use mobility aids?

Paul, This paint survived the fire, cubic altars were common at this time. St Thomas was not celebrating evening Mass at his martyrdom, I think this is the painter connecting martyrdom by showing altar and martyrdom together and clearly, making a theological statement.

georgem said...

I knew about the Clayton church but have never got around to visiting. Now I must. But I knew nothing of the treasure that exists in Brighton.
What we have lost - and will continue to lose if we are not ever watchful.

Stephen said...

Cubic, or almost cubic, altars have continued to be pretty common in Orthodox churches through the centuries, and free-standing is a requirement, since the High Place (the symbolic seat of Christ and His icon, the bishop) is behind it, and many rubrics of the Divine Liturgy call for perambulations around it.

Interestingly, in a celebration of the Divine Liturgy where a deacon serves, the deacon's proper place is at the North side (where one of his jobs is to keep an eye on the priest and make sure he doesn't innovate).

Terry said...

Hello Father.
I will give you the link to the priest blog concerned to see the hurtful material for yourself. Scroll down to see the walking aid and caption etc.
One commenter, a priest, questions the content. I suppose it is ageism.
I pray that the pictures will be removed and even an apology issued.

http://wdtprs.com/blog/2011/06/hello-detroit/
The subject is the American Catholic Council

I do not believe I am lacking a sense of humour. I am just shocked.
If I am over-reacting please say so. I have given this information to other blogs but yours is read in the US so something might be done.
When I think of the disabilities endured by Blessed John Paul and the aged sufferers at Lourdes I feel a great anger.
Such artistic beauty surviving fire extolled by one priest, such ugly prejudice by another.

Thank you.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Terry, I don't find that very offensive, I think Fr Z is pointing out the aging of Liberalism, not showing disrespect to the lame.

If you really find it offensive email him.

Edward P. Walton said...

Any depiction of St. Thomas Becket would have been destroyed under Henry 8th.

In all of the churches, the wall paintings would have been white washed by the mid reign of Elizabeth.

Physiocrat said...

There are more wall paintings at Coombes.

Gigi said...

Thanks for posting these beautiful photos. I had never heard of the church at Clayton, but will now try to visit soon. How lovely that they have survived.
I meant to post last week that someone had scrawled "God Lives" on a bit of hoarding on one of the closed down shops in London Road; underneath it some wag had added "in kemptown". I wouldn't have been that specific: definitely in Sussex anyway!

canvas wall art said...

Brilliant post!Thanks for sharing with us painting of the centuries.Very nice and a treasure like this need to take care importantly.

wall art said...

You have excelled yourself with this post! Very well put together and lovely images.

wall paintings said...

Wow excellent paintings ..What an creativity and it is so old but still it seems so good and attractive still.

Wall Art Pictures said...

So old yet so beautiful and amazing..Thanks for sharing this beautiful picture with us..