Monday, 27 September 2010

Medieval polychromy

Blythburgh, Suffolk, Holy Trinity Church.

I can't resist posting these images of the fifteenth century arch braced ceiling at Holy Trinity in Blythburgh in Suffolk.   The whole surface of the ceiling is covered in delicate polychromy, with stencilled monograms and stylised foliage forms.  The colour and gilding, rather muted now in its faded state, would once have added a gloriously rich covering to this Perpendicular glass house.  What more can I say, sheer perfection.   

Blythburgh, Suffolk, Holy Trinity Church.

Blythburgh, Suffolk, Holy Trinity Church.

Blythburgh, Suffolk, Holy Trinity Church.

Blythburgh, Suffolk, Holy Trinity Church.

Photos by Eric Hardy

7 comments:

Canon Tallis said...

Totally incredible. I am putting this church on my list of 'must sees' for my next trip to the UK. How could the people of that time create so much beauty - and we so little?

Sam said...

If you're going to Blythburgh, it's well worth going the couple of extra miles down the coast to Southwold - it's got a brilliantly preserved rood screen and is another beautiful Suffolk church.

Sam said...

If you're going to Blythburgh, it's well worth going the couple of extra miles down the coast to Southwold - it's got a brilliantly preserved rood screen and is another beautiful Suffolk church.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone explain the spiritual/theological significance of medieval polychromy please?
Its not a criticism - I am simply puzzled - but how does this type of decoration which would not be out of place in a Mosque, find a place in what purports to be a Christian Church?

Simon Cotton said...

And if you are coming all that way, Canon Tallis, there are a good number of other mediaeval churches in the area well worth visiting, such as Wenhaston and Westhall. The former has a remarkable doom painting (a tympanic filling from above the screen); the latter has a fine early 16c screen and the Seven Sacrament font familiar from “Stripping of the Altars”. Plan your trip with the help of a recent edition of Munro Cautley's "Suffolk Churches", also visit Simon Knott's website at http://www.suffolkchurches.co.uk/

Canon Tallis said...

Sam and Simon,

I have noted all of your suggestions down and will certainly follow up on them. I love medieval churches and they seem to love me. But that is another story.

Thank you so much for your suggestions and if you have more, please make them. A younger sister has graciously offered to fund my next journey and I will also get the chance of visiting a niece currently living in Brussels.

Anna said...

Beautiful! happy to see the ceiling polychrome patterns - the C19 nave roof painters at St Cross Holywell in Oxford must have done their homework http://www.flickr.com/photos/balliolarchivist/5102681158/in/set-72157625210926916/