Grant for church to preserve Seven Deadly Sins
Archdeacon Peggy with painting of St George
December 15, 2011
A Medieval church has been given more than half-a-million pounds to preserve the Seven Deadly Sins.
St Cadoc’s Church in Llancarfan, will use the £541,900 grant from Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to restore stunning 500-year-old wall paintings rediscovered during repair work.
The paintings revealed so far include possibly the largest and best preserved image in the UK of “St George and the Dragon” and four depictions of the Seven Deadly Sins – lust, sloth, pride and avarice - which have just come to light.
The grant will safeguard St Cadoc’s nationally important medieval interior and train volunteers to share its heritage with visitors. As well as the paintings, it will enable the church to conserve its carved timber ‘reredos’ canopies and ornate wooden painted screens.
The grant will also fund digital displays and a sequenced narrative using LED lights, to tell the story of the church’s medieval history in a fun and interactive way.
The Parochial Church Council also plans to create educational packs and activities to encourage school groups to get involved in the project. A placement will also be offered for University students in specialist conservation techniques for fine art. Through involving local people in gathering information and research about St. Cadoc’s Church, it is hoped that the project will appeal to the wider community.
The Venerable Peggy Jackson, Priest-in-Charge of Llancarfan, said, “We are privileged to be entrusted with the care of these wall paintings, which appeared so suddenly as treasures in our midst, and also of the reredos, which has yet to reveal its true colours. We are very aware of the responsibility that we carry for completing the work, and of the great confidence placed in us by the HLF, in making this grant, for which we are very grateful. As a community we are also excited by the prospect of what is still to come, and look forward to learning more, and sharing more, with the many visitors who will be finding their way to Llancarfan in the years ahead.
Dan Clayton Jones, announced the award to the PCC as his final public appearance as Chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Wales. He said, “St. Cadoc’s Church’s medieval heritage is hugely important to the story of Christianity in Wales and it is vital that it is properly interpreted and conserved for future generations to explore. This project will help tell the story of this fascinating building in a way that will appeal to young people and visitors alike, while ensuring that the site remains a focal point for the whole community.
“I’m delighted that this project is helping to conclude my time with HLF as it embodies everything I like to see in a project. It is inspiring to see local volunteers so passionate about playing their part in taking our heritage forward and in doing so learning new skills. I look forward to returning to the church as a visitor once the project is complete and seeing the difference the funding has made.”
Photos attached (c) Graham Brain show:
- Archdeacon Peggy Jackson
- Sin of Lust
Initial exploratory conservation followed the discovery of a ‘thin red line’ of ochre five years ago. This rapidly turned out to be part of the frame of a remarkable image of St. George & the Dragon, a classic staging of the iconic tale of the knight rescuing the princess from being fed to the dragon, watched by fraught royal parents in their castle. This is only the third such wall-painting of George & the Dragon ever to be found in Wales, and is by far the most sophisticated.
Subsequent conservation sessions, funded significantly by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Cadw and the Waterloo Foundation, revealed a further awful warning – ‘Death and the Gallant’. Here a cadaverous figure, complete with worms, leads a young gent dressed in the height of C15th fashion off to purgatory. This work seems now unique as a secco wall-painting in Britain.
It is the latest 8-week session, by the distinguished conservators Jane Rutherfoord [sic] and Ann Ballatyne, which has now brought Llancarfan’s sins to light. Lime efflorescence still temporarily clouds some of the partially-revealed paintings, but the conservators are happy to display Luxuria / Lust. Clearly the chaste kiss depicted will lead to other things, urged on by the attendant devil.
Four other sins challenge interpretation with fascinating questions. Why is Accedia / Sloth or Lethargy, being encouraged to kill himself? Who is the regal personage mocked as Superbia / Pride? And do we dare find any modern relevance in the ‘Loads of Money’ depiction of Avaritia / Avarice and his devils, plying him with ochre-gilded lucre.
At least one more image – that of the Virgin Mary blessing St. George’s endeavours – has also come to light. This is again believed to be a unique graphic representation in British (and possibly western European) churches of the act of blessing ‘St.George, Our Lady’s Knight’.
Saint Cadoc founded a monastery on site in the 6th century.
In the south aisle, a painting depicting the coat-of-arms of the Bawdrip family, the assumed sponsors of the church, has been found. Given the Bawdrip’s marital connection to William Herbert, Earl of Pembroke–a powerful executor of royal imperatives under Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary and Elizabeth–the commissioning of the paintings provides a direct insight into the history of the Reformation in Wales.
Entered By Anna Morrell on Thursday 15th of December 2011Anna Morrell, Archbishop’s Media Officer
Church in Wales
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