Painted Temples: Wallpaintings and Rood-screens in Welsh Churches, 1200–1800

Painted Temples: Wallpaintings and Rood-screens in Welsh Churches, 1200–1800

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This is a bilingual book.

Wales has some of the most remarkable late-medieval churches in the British Isles. These are buildings that survived the turmoil of the Reformation decades and the Civil War to preserve outstanding examples of screens and roofs, as well as wallpaintings hidden beneath layers of limewash.

In this authoritative work, Richard Suggett leads us through the history of church building in Wales in the 100 years or so before the Reformation, when many churches reached the form in which they have come down to us today. He discusses the factors affecting the survival of medieval features and uses documentary sources, including the rich legacy of late-medieval Welsh poetry, to reveal what we know about the craftsmen who adorned these buildings, the patrons who commissioned them, and the meanings behind the painted works.

The book includes in-depth analyses of two nationally important decorated churches – Llancarfan, in the Vale of Glamorgan, and Llandeilo Talybont, now reconstructed in St Fagan’s National Museum of History, near Cardiff – written by the specialists who uncovered their important sequences of wallpaintings. The story of painted decoration is taken beyond the Reformation, when the painted image was supplanted by the painted word in English and Welsh and by the Royal Arms –the visual expression of the new relationship between church and state. The rediscovery of the colour of the medieval church by antiquarian-minded parsons in the early Victorian period is the subject of an epilogue.

The concluding gazetteer provides a full list of surviving and lost wallpaintings, painted texts, and Royal Arms. This book is essential for anyone interested in church buildings in Wales and beyond, and readers are encouraged to visit and experience these fine buildings for themselves. The information for this book has been accumulated over many years by the Royal Commission and includes numerous remarkable photographs and drawings which are published for the first time.

Richard Suggett, FSA, FLSW, is Senior Investigator (Historic Buildings) at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.


  • Foreword: The Right Reverend Dr Rowan Williams
  • Preface and acknowledgements

Chapter 1: The great rebuilding of the late-medieval church

Chapter 2: Rood-screens and lofts

Chapter 3: Late-medieval wallpaintings

Chapter 4: Case study: Llancarfan, by Jane Rutherfoord

Chapter 5: Case study: Llandeilo Talybont, by Anthony J. Parkinson

Chapter 6: Wallpaintings and painters from the Reformation to the Civil War

Chapter 7: Painters and wallpaintings: from the Restoration to the Regency

Chapter 8: The Rediscovery of colour

  • Notes and references
  • List of sites, sources, and index
  • List and sources of illustrations


Author Richard Suggett, Anthony J. Parkinson, Jane Rutherfoord, 2021
Cover Hardback
Size 340 x 245mm
Pages 384
Illustrations 251
ISBN 978-1-871184-58-7