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Tours > Sussex Churches > Clayton

St. John the Baptist - Clayton
TQ 299139; Six Miles North of Brighton

Clayton is another Saxon church for which Sussex is so well known. However, it is known across the world for its remarkable early twelfth century wall paintings which may be viewed in the nave. These represent the Last Judgement.

The main figure, over the Chancel arch, is of Our Lord sitting on a throne with the Apostles grouped on either side. The north and south walls are treated in two separate tiers of paintings, the upper tier on each side depicting a procession moving towards the figure of Our Lord. As the eye follows the procession towards its end the visitor sees that the tail end of the procession is in confusion representing those whose souls are not yet saved. The west wall would have shown a painting of The Doom as may still be seen in the church of Chaldon (Surrey) but at Clayton it has been destroyed.

Wall paintings were frequently whitewashed over at the Reformation as their subjects were then regarded as 'Papist'. Here at Clayton they were not discovered again until the church was restored by Mr C.E.Kempe in the 1890s. They have since been restored although their faint ochre colour is a pale representation of what must have been bright and vivid colours when new. Kempe's firm of C.E. Kempe and Co. Ltd., also provided a stained glass window of the Crucifixion in the south wall of the nave in 1915. Their familiar logo of the time, a wheatsheaf with a black tower superimposed may be clearly seen.



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