Medieval Painted Reredos- a unique survivor

In 15th century Wells, builders were busy at St Cuthbert's and at the Cathedral.  Masons and painters moved from one to the other creating brilliant statues and other sculptures designed to glorify God and to educate worshippers.

At St Cuthbert's, two wonderful reredoses (altars) were built:  one told the story of the Virgin Mary; the other was a Jesse Tree - the family tree of Jesus.  They were both brightly painted and full of beautiful statues with golden curls, lovely faces, crowns and biblical scrolls.

In the reign of Edward VI as the Protestant ideas of the Reformation gained dominance, all these statues were destroyed and the fragments used to fill in the niches, before everything was plastered over.  There they remained - forgotten - until 1848 when builders were brought in to remove the crumbling plaster as part of a renovation project  and suddenly found this astonishing colourful treasure, speaking to them from a world four hundred years earlier!

You can find out more about these unique and important survivors here and see the complete online catalogue here.



St_John_the_Baptist_feet_and_camel_head, JPG