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The famous wall paintings


The chancel of St. Mary’s is decorated on three walls with a nearly complete set of medieval wall paintings, which is of national importance. It is believed that they were painted around 1320AD probably at the behest of the de Barantyn family who lived in one of the two manors in Chalgrove at the time. They were lime washed over at the time of the Reformation and then rediscovered in 1858 during a period of renovation work being carried out on the instructions of the then Vicar, the Rev’d Robert French Lawrence. Some of the paintings on the north wall are a little indistinct now due to their age and two of the paintings on the south wall were covered by marble memorials while the paintings lay hidden under the lime wash.

The whole scheme is dedicated to St. Mary-the-Virgin, the patron of the church, and can be divided into four main sections as follows.
  • On the north wall is the story of the Birth and Passion of Jesus, ending in his resurrection and ascension shown on the north side of the east wall.
  • On the south wall is the apocryphal story of the death and assumption of Mary, ending on the south side of the east wall depicting her crowning as Queen of Heaven.
  • Also on the south wall at the west end is a picture of the Day of Judgement, or “Doom”.
  • And finally in the window splays are pictures of Saints, all of whom are associated in some way with Mary.


  • A guidebook to the paintings is available in the church. Additionally guided tours of the paintings can be arranged by prior arrangement with Mr Bob Heath-Whyte, tel: 01865 890442.

    To purchase a copy of "An Illustrated Guide to the Medieval Wall Paintings in the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin at Chalgrove in the County of Oxfordshire" contact Bob on heathwhyter@yahoo.co.uk or click here to find out other ways of ordering the book.
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