Villagers launch bid to raise £200,000 for 14th-century church paintings
- Credit: Ickleton Archive
A 14th-century 'Doom painting' needs conservation and preservation work worth more than £200,000.
To raise the funds, Cambridgeshire villagers have formed a group to protect the painting and a series of frescoes in St Mary Magdalene, Ickleton.
The group, The Friends of Ickleton Church, has launched a guidebook - on sale at the church and village shop - and has begun a lecture series which runs until November 19.
The earliest fresco is thought to date back to the 1100s.
An arson attack at St Mary Magdalene church in 1979 led to the discovery of the paintings, which were previously hidden underneath plaster.
Several images depict scenes from the Bible, including the Last Supper and the Betrayal of Christ.
A large 'Doom painting' - a picture of Christ judging souls to send them to heaven or hell - depicting the end of time as described in Matthew's Gospel, was also uncovered dating back to the 1300s.
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Jenny Duke, St Mary Magdalene's church warden, said the paintings need to be preserved for the benefit of generations to come.
"The paintings are a wonderful reminder of the centuries of worship which have taken place in this beautiful church.
"Norman wall paintings of this size are rare.
"Whole sequences representing the Passion of Christ even rarer, and series from the mid-12th century unknown elsewhere."
Medieval religious art in English churches is rare.
After the English Reformation under Henry VIII - when the Church of England broke away from the Catholic church in Rome - religious art was destroyed.
This was pursued on an "unprecedented" scale under the government of Edward VI, according to Tate Britain experts.
Jenny described the day the paintings were uncovered.
She said: "When the villagers entered the church after a fire on August 24, 1979, they saw a figure of Christ looking down on them - a 14th-century ‘Doom’ emerged through the peeling plaster.
"Restored by experts, Ickletonians now need to raise funds of over £200,000 for conservation and preservation."
The guidebook is on sale in the church and Ickleton village shop.
Details of the lecture series are online: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/friends-of-ickleton-church-34049542971