January 15th, 2016


Fire And Fleet And Candle Light

The Ladder of Salvation mural on the West Wall of Chaldon church (near Caterham in Surrey) dates from around 1200. It's one of the best preserved Romanesque murals in England- and a comprehensive guide to the medieval afterlife.

Chaldon church is tiny and scrubby. It's often the smallest churches- the ones that were never upgraded or over-restored- that contain the most remarkable things...

Murderers are roasted in bulk

Various sins are punished in Hell. The man being pitchforked is a usurer (banker) Look closely and you can see he is vomiting money.

The Brig o' Dread- dishonest workmen cross a saw-toothed bridge

Stairway to Heaven


The three Marys under angelic escort

The Harrowing of Hell. Christ tramples the Devil and rescues the souls of the just.

St Michael is weighing souls, the Devil tries to tip the balance

The ladder reaches Heaven


A couple of pictures of the exterior of St Peter and St Paul, Chaldon. Not an outstanding building, as you can see- but old; there was a church here in Saxon times- and some of the fabric you're seeing may go back that far. The Victorians stuck the funny little spire on. They liked spires- and so do I. The Pilgrims Way runs nearby.

And Croydon is just up the road.

The building at the back- which looks medieval- is a sort of parish hall- and was hosting a preschool nursery group while I was there. The  group is called Twiglets.

The church has a reputation for being haunted, but I can't run any specific stories to earth. Put "haunted Chaldon" in your search engine and sooner or later you'll stumble on a photo which seems to show a little grey man either leaning or sitting on a gravestone. As ghost photos go it's one of the better ones.

This unusual tablet- dated 1563- is in the South chapel. It seems not to be a funerary monument but simply an injunction to good works. The text begins "Good redar warne all man and women who.....here to be ever good to the poore and nedy..."