The Doom at St. Michael's


The presence of a Doom painting in St Michael's Church was confirmed in the early 19th Century when, following the removal of boards on the Rood Screen (placed in the Chancel Arch between the Nave and Chancel) the illustration of the Last Judgement was found.

The main part was painted on the wall above and around the arch in distemper, with a wooden tympanum placed in the arch itself, being painted in oils.

The wall painting is no longer visible, the victim of a later restoration of the church but a fragment of the painting can be seen in the splay of the south-east window in the Nave.

Also surviving are painted chevrons which can be seen on the central beam of the nave roof and adjacent side timbers.

The tympanum, which was removed from its original position, can be seen hanging in the nave. This is the only part of the Doom painting to survive. When examined in 1996 (Tobit Curteis Associates) the conclusion made was that both the materials and painting techniques are consistent with the second half of the 15th century. This is certainly consistent with existing wills of that period.

The tympanum consists of five horizontal boards, measuring approximately 310cm x 115cm, having a semicircular top, shaped to be placed in the Chancel arch. The painting shows six figures, four male (one wearing a papal tiara, one a crown) and two females (one also wearing a crown) rising from their graves on Judgement Day. These are painted in greater detail than the background flowers. A vertical line of unpainted wood runs down the middle of the tympanum indicating the position of the Rood.

Although not unique this painting echoes the religious belief held in medieval England and it is our aim to preserve this masterpiece for future generations.

Picture Captions:
The Doom, overall view and a detail of a Queen rising out of her tomb on Doomsday. Below that a copy of the c1820 engraving showing the Doom painting as uncovered above the Chancel arch. Our Doom fitted into this, with the purpose of providing a straight line for the base of the mural painting. At the bottom, a needlework rendering of this image, made by a team of St Michael's ladies in the 1970s.