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Home :: Archive :: 2007 :: October ::
Paintings in Stratford
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0683  Friday, 12 October 2007

From: 		Peter Bridgman <
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Date: 		Thursday, 11 Oct 2007 09:30:29 +0100
Subject: 18.0677 Julius Caesar's Pulpit/Paintings in Stratford
Comment: 	Re: SHK 18.0677 Julius Caesar's Pulpit/Paintings in Stratford

Jack Heller writes ...

 >Second, is there a catalogue of church and chapel paintings
 >of the 16th century in Stratford? I know that many of these
 >were painted over or whitewashed in Shakespeare's lifetime,
 >but I understand that in the nineteenth century, some
 >restoration work had been attempted to recover the art. What
 >is known of the art in Stratford in that century?

What was discovered in the 19th century was a large 'Doom' (Last 
Judgement) under the 16th century whitewash in Stratford's Guild Chapel. 
As far as I know, no wall paintings were found in Holy Trinity church, 
although they would once have existed.

Michael Wood's book 'In Search of Shakespeare' has a photo of the Guild 
Chapel Doom as it is today (very damaged), plus a useful reconstruction 
of what it would have looked like. Here is part of the reconstruction . . .

http://www.ecclsoc.org/wenhaston/stratfull.jpg

Unfortunately my copy of Wood's book is not at hand, but I believe I'm 
right in saying that the whitewashing was done only a matter of months 
before WS's birth. WS is therefore unlikely to have ever seen any 
medieval wall paintings - at least not in Stratford.

For the removal of religious art generally, see Eamon Duffy:  'The 
Stripping of the Altars' (Yale, 1992). In February 1548 Thomas Cranmer 
ordered the "total removal of images" in churches (Duffy, p.458). 
Paintings, statues and altar-pieces were burnt; wall paintings were 
whitewashed over and replaced with scriptural verses condemning 
idolatry; stained-glass windows were to be removed and replaced with 
plain glass (Cranmer later reversed this order as there was not enough 
replacement glass in the country). Because they contained scripture, 
illuminated books (psalters etc) were not destroyed. Although Mary's 
reign refilled the churches with new images, these were again removed by 
Elizabeth's Injunctions of 1559, which outlawed "all religious images, 
including those in window and wall" (Duffy, p. 568). Again, the Privy 
Council backtracked on windows - they were to be broken only if the 
window was to be reglazed.

As a result, the only religious images in English churches for the next 
300 years were the stained glass. Religious images only reappeared in 
Anglican churches with the Oxford Movement of the 1840s.

Peter Bridgman

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