It was a packed church at All Saints, Claverley on Saturday 21st July when more than 120 people gathered to hear a panel of speakers discuss the context and possible interpretations for the unusual frieze of battling knights depicted along the North wall of the aisle. The audience first had the opportunity to look at the wall paintings while enjoying a glass of locally made wine. The local history group had also put up a display showing the 1902 restoration. Dr Matthew Bennett examined the context of what he called ‘Claverley’s Cavalry’ in medieval warfare and tournament. Professor Matthew Strickland delighted the audience with images of other wall paintings which highlighted the importance of the Claverley programme, unique in the UK and rare across Europe. Christopher Barrett (artist and researcher) explored the different interpretations there have been of the paintings over the years since their discovery during restoration works in 1902 and explained how the theme of the Holy cross could be seen as one which united the frieze of knights with the images in the spandrels below. I closed by telling the story of the battle of Roncevaux, alluded to in the paintings with the knight blowing a horn (recalling the famous horn scene of the Chanson de Roland narrative), a flowering lance,and a knight who bears a coat of arms which may allude to the arms attributed to Charlemagne.
For more information on the Claverley paintings see the virtual exhibition on our website; to learn more about Charlemagne’s attributed arms, see the article by Adrian Ailes in the ’further reading’ section of the website.