Details of the painting remnant mounted in the south wall of the Chancel
In 1977, when the plaster ceiling in the nave was removed and the 15th century roof timbers were exposed, there were found two damaged pieces of boarding, on which there was some Mediaeval painting, dated as belonging to the first half of the 15th century.
These two pieces were carefully examined, pieced together, cleaned and treated with preservative. They are now displayed on the south wall of the church for all to see.
There is little doubt, that they are the upper portion of a ‘Doom’ or ‘Judgement’ painting, which was a favourite subject in the Mediaeval era and such paintings on timber boarding, were particularly common in the 15th century.
Even though only this fragment remains, there is a clear ‘cross nimbus’ in the centre, which in ‘Iconography, only appears in the Halo surrounding the head of Christ.
The upper part of the head of Christ, showing only His hair, is visible.
At each end of the board, can be seen the heads of two winged Angels. The Angel on the left holds the spear which pierced the side of Christ, while the Angel on the right, is holding one of the nails.
Running along the back is the upper member of a ‘Tau Cross’, while to the left, there is seen the ‘Crown of Thorns’. The remainder of the picture must be surmised and for evidence we must look at ‘Doom Paintings’ of the same period in other churches.
The central figure of Christ was probably shown as seated in Judgement on a rainbow; surrounded by angels bearing the symbols of the Passion. Below this would be depicted on one side, the souls of the Saved, being escorted by angels into the Heavenly mansions, while on the other, would be the souls of the Lost, being driven by demons into the jaws of Hell.
The ‘Doom Paintings’ were intended as visual aids for those who could not read or write and served as a reminder to them, of the great Judgement Day at which time, every soul would be judged. They were always sited high up between the Nave and the Chancel; always in view of the worshipping community.
The discovery of part of a ‘Doom Painting’ in Buttsbury Church, although merely a fragment, nevertheless serves to remind us that in
Pre-Reformation days, the interiors of our Parish Churches were ablaze with colour. Walls were covered with mural paintings; windows aglow with stained glass, while screens, roofs, fonts and other furnishings, were brilliantly coloured and gilded, all executed by dedicated craftsmen to the Honour and Glory of God; the best that they could give.