Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pickering Church

The wall paintings at the church at Pickering – St.Peter and St.Paul

The wall painting on both sides of the church are beautifully depicted, there is almost a feminine hand to be seen.  Painted flowers adorn the panels between the panels of stories, painted feet stray into the patterned areas.  Subject matter covers biblical stories as well as historic matter.  The church replaced a Saxon church 900 years ago.  The early Norman church, rebuilt in 1140 would have been of the simple cruciform lay-out.  It was later enlarged, after the massive tower collapsed, which then took a total of 300 years to build.  The wall-paintings was probably done around the date of 1450, but only a 100 years later they were covered at the time of the Protestant Reformation.  They were then rediscovered in 1852, but apparently because of their “Popish superstitions’ the then vicar had them covered once more in whitewash, and it was only in 1876 a more sympathetic vicar had them uncovered and once more restored.

St.George and the slaying of the dragon on the left and St.Christopher on the right

St. Christopher

Christopher normally faces the entrance to the church in his role as patron saint of travellers.   His legend tells us that a young man Offero set off on a journey to find the ‘greatest king’ so that he could devote himself to the king’s service.  He travelled round the world progressively serving greater monarchs until, at last he found his way to a monastery there to serve King Jesus, as some sort of penance for not being able to say his prayers or able to fast, he was set by the abbot to carry pilgrims and travellers across the river to the monastery.
One evening he heard a child crying on the far bank, he carried the child on his shoulder but found him much heavier than anyone Offero had ever carried.  The child said “Your load is heavy, because you are carrying someone who carries the sins of all the world”  After that he was called Christian the ‘Christ-Bearer’


Edmund was born in 840 AD and at 14 he became the Christian king of East Anglia.  In 869 the invading Viking armies marched through Mercia and into East Anglia destroying the abbeys of Peterborough and Ely.  Edmund was defeated at Hoxney, and the Danish king offered to set up Edmund as ‘puppet king’, if he would renounce his religion and his God.  Edmund of course refused and on November 20th, 870 AD he was martyred.  He was stripped, tied to a tree, and shot with arrows and then later beheaded. ……..  There is something maliciously cruel about the deaths of the middle ages, spiteful and cruel, a way of keeping the populace under control.


Catherine of Alexandria, was to become the patron saint of women, virgins, philosophers and students after her persecution and death at the hands of the Emperor Maxentius (306-312).  She had protested to the emperor about the worship of idols, she also debated with philosophers about religion and turned them in favour of her argument.  This so enraged Maxentius that he had the philosophers killed, Catherine was brought out of prison, stripped to the waist and flogged.  She is visited in prison by the Empress Faustina who is also converted, the emperor again is so enraged that he kills the empress, and then tortures Catherine on a spiked wheel and then she was executed.  The story is told in a strip cartoon form, the little prison house is tiny, with poor Catherine looking out.
Also of course, the whirligig firework  called the Catherine Wheel is named after her.

Nearly all the photos came out dark, so a certain amount of lighting had to be done, it was an impressive these wall paintings, a slightly nondescript Saxon font, in all a pretty church standing above the little town

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