A larger image of the Mural with a scene of the Martyrdom of St Thomas Becket, St Peter ad Vincula Church, South Newington, England, c.1330AD
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This was almost certainly a private chapel for the Giffard family, and it is to them we owe the astonishing wall paintings that decorate the north wall. The paintings in the aisle date from about 1330 and are at the same time a devotional expression and a statement of political affiliation and family status. They are created with oil on plaster, a very unusual and expensive way to produce paintings at that time. The paintings were covered with limewash at the Reformation, and this has acted to preserve the art in an amazingly good condition.
Thomas Becket Martyrdom
The murder of Becket was a popular subject in medieval church art, but only 15 or so wall paintings survive, and this is undoubtedly one of the finest. Why did so few survive? Henry VIII ordered the 'idolatrous' paintings destroyed, but this one was spared because it was covered by a painting of St George and the Dragon. Becket is shown kneeling by an altar, confronted by the four knights. He is in an attitude of prayer, defended by a priest, who has blocked the first sword blow. A second knight strikes a fatal blow, while a third has his sword ready and the fourth begins to draw his weapon. Becket's head is perfectly preserved, but only the head of the fourth knight, Richard le Bret, has survived relatively intact.
Source: Britain Express - South Newington Church and wall paintings
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