White Hart Crest of the Royal County of Berkshire David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History

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Ashampstead Wall Paintings
Medieval Masterpieces 

The photo below is of the Holy Infancy painting on the north wall of the nave: the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity and the Appearance of the Angel to the Shepherds. Further paintings appear elsewhere on the north wall (the Presentation in the Temple), over the vestry door (St. Christopher), over the chancel arch (the Last Judgment) and in the chancel (ornamental).

Medieval Wall Paintings at Ashampstead Church, Berkshire -  Nash Ford Publishing

The main paintings in the Nave date from the 2nd quarter of the 13th Century and were done under the influence of the Banedictine Abbey at Lyre near Evreaux in Normandy which had connections with this church through ownership of the land until 1377. Henry III had a royal hunting box at or near Ashampstead at that time, also owning land in the neighbourhood, and the incorporation of the star and crescent, his personal badge, in the background of the paintings indicates his interest in and probable contribution towards (as was his custom) the work which was likely to have been commissioned by the de Newburgh family, Earls of Warwick, who were the feudal overlords for two centuries from 1087. The artist probably came from a Benedictine establishment at Windsor or Winchester and the superior quality of the work is due to all these factors.

The Courtauld Institute have written that "these 13th Century paintings are undoubtedly amongst the most important of their date in England, not only because of the amount of painting that survives but because of their high quality".

The paintings were plastered over after the Reformation and were only uncovered in 1895 by the efforts of the Vicar at that time. They were restored in 1960 but have now required further conservation to arrest the flaking of some of the paint. The cost of this was in the order of 12,000.

Description by Professor E.W. Tristram (1950) from display boards in Ashampstead Church.


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