Paintings and the past

Wallpaintings have built up over 1000 years of political, artistic and social history. Here we tell you about changes and influences that have been put upon wallpaintings and why.

The oldest wallpaintings survive from before the Norman Conquest. Although many are now lost, every Medieval church interior was originally painted. Medieval painters depicted Biblical tales, saintly miracles and terrible warnings, alongside decorative patterns.

In each parish church wallpaintings were combined with stained glass, textiles and tombs to create a unique and colourful interior. These first 'picture houses' provided a stock of images for the local community. Wallpaintings give a fascinating insight into the lives and beliefs of Medieval people, if we understand their meanings and symbolism. 

The Reformation altered, but did not end this form of church art. Unacceptable images were covered and replaced with new subjects, particularly texts.