White Hart Crest of the Royal County of Berkshire David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History

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St. Clement's Church, Ashampstead, Berkshire -  Nash Ford PublishingAshampstead
St. Clement's Church 

The church at Ashampstead was built in the late 12th century as a chapel of Basildon. The massive timber roof and the bell-turret are of 16th century date.

Berkshire is not best known for a proliferation of medieval wall paintings in its churches, yet Ashampstead Church has some of the finest in the country. They appear to have been painted in the 13th century by a Benedictine monk, perhaps from Reading Abbey, or even Normandy. The style is certainly of the 'Windsor School' of this period and the technique used was similar to fresco painting. These colourful pictures were used by the priest to help instruct the congregation about the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity an the appearance of Gabriel to the Shepherds. The figure of Christ and the Apostles over the chancel arch is particularly powerful, with souls being dragged down to Hell on the right and admitted to Heaven on the left. The artist paid particular attention to detail, right down to the dogs barking at the archangel.

The new wave of Protestantism in the 16th century did not agree with such 'iconoclasm' and all the paintings were then plastered over. They were further covered in Biblical texts during the 18th century. But, in 1886, some of the plaster fell off during a storm and the vicar discovered his church's hidden treasure. They have been treated to ensure their future preservation in the 20s, the 50s and, most recently, in 1990.

 

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