Candles, Wall Paintings and Incense

The light flooding onto this lofty church was not always so bright. Devotional and memorial stained glass, showing an array of saints and heraldic devices, darkened the medieval interior. In about 1840 the nave windows were fitted with iron casements, or frames. Sadly, this work destroyed the last fragments of medieval glass. It also, inadvertently, weakened the stonework. So much so that when, in 1940, a land mine blew in the Victorian stained glass, much of the windows' stone tracery was also destroyed. The present plain panes are modern, yet irregular like medieval glass; so they still distort the churchyard yews into dark spires.

Guttering candles provided the only extra light in an incense-filled interior. In the gloom the church was rich with decoration. Ormerod's History of Cheshire tells us that, before the 1863-6 restorations at Bunbury, "This superb country edifice ... contained as rich a variety of ornament as any church in the county".

Until Victorian times most of the walls, ceilings, stonework, woodwork, tombs and statues were painted and gilded: the church interior was a hymn to colour.

Wall paintings, showing scenes from the Bible and the lives of the saints, or giving graphic warnings against the Seven Deadly Sins, were universal in the Medieval Church. They were the Poor Man's Bible, a "visual aid", essential in a pre-literate age.

Only fragments of the wall paintings remain at Bunbury. Most were obliterated by lime-wash at the Reformation, to be replaced by written excerpts from the scriptures. Of those few spared, the majority were later destroyed by the Victorian mania for church restoration. As each mural was uncovered, it was briefly recorded and then hacked away. Even the stonework was retooled.

The North Aisle

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