Dating from the late 12th or early 13th century, this parish church in Surrey is known for the fresco on the west wall. An overview of the church’s history is summarized on the parish website. Information about the fresco is taken from information in the church (see the photo below).
11th-12th century church building, built on the style of Saxon churches
The Jacobean style pulpit is dated to 1657
This red and yellow ochre fresco on the west wall of the church. The work dates from around 1200. The fresco measures 17ft 3in by 11ft 2in. The topic of the work is ‘the Ladder of Salvation of the Human Soul’ and “Purgatory and Hell.’ The work reads in quadrants, separated by a cross formed by the ladder of souls and a stylized cloud. Lower extreme right: tree of knowledge with serpent at far right. In the bottom two quadrants are those who are being punished by demons for participating in the seven deadly sins and dishonesty in their roles in community. In the upper left quadrant, the archangel Michael weighs souls while a demon attempts to tip the scales against the soul. An angel leads the three Marys to the ladder going to heaven. The right upper quadrant depicts Christ spearing the devil with his cross and welcoming souls into heaven.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, with the serpent, is on the far right side. The two demons hold a bridge with spikes that dishonest tradesmen are crossing, all missing the tools of their trades. Avarice is depicted by the blind usurer who is held up by demons while he sits in flames, money pouring out of his mouth into his pouch. On either side, two figures depict envy (“one has longer hair than the other”) and two figures embracing depict lust. At the base of the ladder is the symbol for life. The figures on the ladder represent virtuous souls climbing and souls which practice vice tumbling down the ladder.
A demon pulls a soul off the ladder of salvation. The woman whose hands are being gnawed by the demon wolf might depict pride. Above the woman and the wolf, the “two figures fight over a hunting-horn” depict anger. Murderers are thrown into the cauldron. The “drunken pilgrim” by the demon has sold the “badge of his office,” his cloak, to purchase more wine and depicts gluttony. The three women at the far left either are loitering, depicting sloth, or were dancers. The consecration cross has been woven into the fresco.
Archangel Michael weighs a soul while a demon, who has souls on a rope to drag them to hell, attempts to tip the balance against the soul. Another soul tugs on Michael’s robe to bring his attention to the demon’s work. Another angel leads the three Mary’s to heaven. Above them, an angel carries “the penitent thief to heaven.”
An angel assists Enoch and Elijah as they ascend into heaven. “On the far right, our Lord is transfixing the devil with his cross and welcoming the Old Testament characters to heaven.”
Enoch and Elijah ascending into heaven. Christ, in a position of blessing, has the sun and moon behind him.