Friday, 6 March 2015

The Beautiful and Rare Medieval Wall Paintings of St Agatha's Church, Easby, Yorkshire

St Agatha's Church, Easby, Yorkshire

Standing near the banks of the 'swirling, rushing' water of the River Swale, predating, but in the shadow of, Easby Abbey, is the beautiful St Agatha's Church, with its rare 13th Century Wall Paintings.


They were painted sometime around 1250, and only rediscovered in Victorian times during restoration work, having been plastered over during the 16th Century Reformation. They were further restored in 1994 by Perry Lithgow.

Medieval Wall Paintings, St Agatha's Church, Easby, Yorkshire

Up until the late 15th century, there were no printed books, and religious texts were few and far between. Coupled with this, most people were illiterate, and also unable to comprehend the language of religious services, which were mostly in Latin.


Medieval Wall Paintings, St Agatha's Church, Easby, Yorkshire

Paintings such as these, and the ones at Pickering Parish Church, were referred to as 'Bilblia Pauperum' - the poor man's Bible, and the parish priest would use them to teach his congregation about morality, the Bible and stories of the saints.



The surviving paintings in St Agatha's include scenes from the Garden of Eden, scenes of agricultural activity, and New Testament scenes.


Medieval Wall Paintings, St Agatha's Church, Easby, Yorkshire

The present Church building dates from just after the Norman conquest, but was probably built on a Saxon foundation.

Stood within the Chancel is a plaster copy of the Easby Cross, a beautifully carved apostle pillar, the original being in the Victoria and Albert museum in London. It was carved in about 790, from stone quaried near Whitby.

Copy Easby Cross, St Agatha's Church, Easby, Yorkshire

Copy Easby Cross, St Agatha's Church, Easby, Yorkshire

As well as many other interesting features, including grooves in church door jambs believed by some to have been made by archers sharpening their arrows, Queen Anne's coat of arms, a large Romanesque font dating from about 1100, there is a stone bench at the base of the back wall of the church. This provided limited seating to the medieval incumbents in a time before church pews, the origin of the phrase 'the weak go to the wall.'


St Agatha's Church, Easby, Yorkshire

St Agatha's Church, Easby, Yorkshire

Dedicated to the Sicilian saint, St Agatha, the Church at Easby is well worth visiting, a visit which can be combined with a walk around the ruins of the adjacent abbey, and maybe a trip to nearby Richmond, with its plethora of history.

As ever, please consider a donation towards the upkeep of the church. 


Thanks for reading!

Toni

Justbod Team

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5 comments:

  1. O wow what superb wall paintings, I hav enever come across any as good as that yet
    http://graveplace.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. They are beautiful! Only ever seen these and the ones in Pickering parish church (http://justbod.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-beautiful-medieval-wall-paintings.html) and, even though there are more in Pickering, I still loved these more. Just visited your blog - a very 'grave interest!' Good stuff - I think 'The Church Explorer' would be good :)

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Mike! (sorry - only just noticed your comment!)

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