Monday, April 6, 2015
High and bright
The dazzling painted screen at Long Sutton in my previous post attracted quite a lot of admiration, so here’s another example of restored colour in the late-medieval manner, this time from the church of St Peter, Evercreech, in the same county of Somerset. Like a number of Somerset wooden roofs (the county is rich in medieval church woodwork), the one at Evercreech is inhabited by a flock of angels.
The angelic host look down at us in the nave, their multi-coloured wings pointing towards us, their hands grasping shields, their hair gilded, and their pale faces marked with the merest dot of red, like a touch of blusher.
The ties beams themselves, plus the other main components of this medieval roof are vividly painted and gilded, and this colouring stands out against the unpainted timbers and the whitewashed walls. As with the Long Sutton screen, this painted roof provides just a hint of the bright colour with which many medieval churches were covered. Anyone who wants to see the kind of effect that coloured decoration can achieve in a high-status building should visit the glorious Sainte-Chapelle in Paris – it’s like stepping inside an enormous jewel box. The effect in this English church is more home-spun. But the carved angels still draw the eye upward, as no doubt their medieval creators intended, so that we can visualise in our minds’ eyes the greater heavenly host.