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St Nicholas Church at Oddington, Gloucestershire

Oddington church by Barbara Ballard The graveyard at Oddington church by Barbara Ballard St Nicholas Church is famous for its medieval wall paintings. To create these, the walls were first plastered with a thin layer of lime putty on which the painting was done while the walls were still wet. Natural colour pigments were mixed with lime water and skim milk to create the paint. As the majority of people could not read, visual images held a strong influence for them.

The earliest paintings to be done are found in the south chapel (currently a ringers’ chamber). These date from a rebuilding of the church in the Early English style.

Oddington medieval wall paintings by Barbara Ballard The 14th century painting named the Doom or Last Judgement is the featured one in the church. It is found at the western end of the north wall of the nave. At 32 feet in length and 15 feet in height, it dominates the church. It does not extend to the roof as that was raised c1500 after the completion of the art work. Missing is the lower part of the painting which was caused by removing the plaster and cementing the wall. It is currently covered with wood. Another destruction of the painting occurred when a gallery was built at the west end of the nave. At that time supporting beams were fastened into the north wall.

Another picture entitled Magnificence dates from 1520. Located to the east of Doom, it was painted after the roof raising. The main figure in the painting wears a gown with pointed sleeves. It is not established who the figure is.

Oddington medieval wall paintings by Barbara Ballard Other paintings in the church can be seen in traces only. Some decoration has remained on the arcade and original Early English archway. The west end of the nave and the south aisle, the south wall of the nave, and the east end of the nave are thought to have paintings under the plaster.

The paintings were covered with a coat of lime due to Edward VI, in 1547, and Elizabeth I, in 1559, ordering that all paintings, pictures, and other “superstitions” be eliminated from churches. The church was abandoned in 1851 but came back into use in 1912. It was at this time that the covered wall paintings were discovered.

During restoration work in 1990 17th century lettering of the Lord’s Prayer came to light as did a medieval painting under the coat of arms of King William IV above the chancel arch.

Visitor Information

Oddington is on a minor road just off the B445 which is off the A436 east of Stow-on-the-Wold.

Photos © by Barbara Ballard

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