A unique tribute to England’s kings
The ceiling of St Mary’s chancel hosts the portraits of 40 kings of England. This glorious feature is truly unique – there is no equivalent anywhere else in England.
Each king is lavishly portrayed: they are depicted standing on a grassy mound, accompanied by a golden scroll that records (in Latin) the length of the reign and where the king was buried.
Every portrait is different – the kings have their own distinct clothing and symbols. For example, the portrait of Richard II (1377-99) includes a broach bearing a white hart, the emblem he adopted towards the end of his reign.
The ceiling was made in 1445, during the reign of Henry VI (1422-71), and includes portraits of Anglo-Saxon and post-Conquest Kings. Among the 40 monarchs are some mythical Kings of England, including Brutus and Eboracus.
The ceiling was repaired and repainted in 1939, during which time a painting of Lochrine (son of Brutus) was over-painted with a portrait of the then serving king, George VI (1936-52).
WHERE TO FIND THE CEILING OF KINGS: in the chancel, at the eastern end of the church.