The best books on medieval churches

Matthew Champion Author Of Medieval Graffiti: The Lost Voices of England's Churches
By Matthew Champion

The Books I Picked & Why

Medieval Wall Paintings in English & Welsh Churches

By Roger Rosewell

Medieval Wall Paintings in English & Welsh Churches

Why this book?

Today surviving medieval church wall paintings are a bit of a rarity in England, but during the Middle Ages every church, almost without exception, would have been an absolute riot of colour, with saints, angels, and demons battling their way across the walls. What Rosewell's book does is allow you to understand not just what you are seeing, but how and why they were made in the first place. It explains the way in which the pigments were made, who painted them, and even who paid for them. It also contains an absolutely fantastic selection of images, that bring to life just how vibrant the walls of our churches once were. A gem.


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Seeking Salvation: Commemorating the Dead in the Late-Medieval English Parish

By Sally Badham

Seeking Salvation: Commemorating the Dead in the Late-Medieval English Parish

Why this book?

Definitely not as grim as the title might suggest. All churches are crammed full of memorials to the dead, and many dozens of books have been written that focus upon the people who lie in these tombs, or beneath the elegant grave slabs. However, sometimes little attention has been given to these memorials themselves, and the craftspeople who made them. This book is the culmination of a lifetime's research and will fascinate anyone who has an interest in church decoration - or dead people.


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Norfolk Rood Screens

By Paul Hurst, Jeremy Haselock

Norfolk Rood Screens

Why this book?

Surviving medieval painted rood screens are one of the wonders of England's churches. Each one artwork in its own right. In this magnificently illustrated work, the authors highlight twenty-four of the finest surviving examples, showing them in all their glorious detail. It may not be a groundbreaking work, but it is most certainly an inspiring one. If you ever thought the Middle Ages were drab and colourless, then this book will undoubtedly change your mind. A visual feast.

This book is currently out of print.



Flint Flushwork: A Medieval Masonry Art

By Stephen Hart

Flint Flushwork: A Medieval Masonry Art

Why this book?

Stephen Hart spent a lifetime travelling around English churches and was one of the most knowledgeable - and good-natured - individuals I ever had the pleasure to work with. One of his passions was for flushwork - the decorative flint work seen on many English churches, most especially in East Anglia. This book was published towards the end of his career and brings together many of his thoughts and ideas - as well as a fantastic selection of images.


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The Archaeology of Churches

By Warwick Rodwell

The Archaeology of Churches

Why this book?

I love this book, and not just because it is one of the few church archaeology books to mention graffiti. This book takes a very different approach to churches than most volumes you will have come across, as it quite literally strips them back to their bare bones. This is the deep history of the parish church, laid bare in the stones. Rodwell is a recognised expert in his field, and understands churches in ways that few others do - and after reading this you will never look at a medieval church in quite the same way again. 


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