Doom Painting of St Thomas’

As well as Salisbury Cathedral, there is another place of worship within the city centre that draws international attention: St Thomas’ church.

It is an interesting building, and not only do experts believe it pre-dates the cathedral (St Thomas’s was thought to have been built as a place of worship for stonemasons and builders working on the cathedral) it also contains the UK’s largest and best-preserved medieval Doom painting.

The original wall-painting in St Thomas’, located above the chancel arch, was thought to have been painted around 1470 and, as with all Doom paintings, depicts the Last Judgement.

They were a feature of medieval church art and were used as a way to educate the illiterate by instructing them on the nature of judgement.

It used images of people climbing from their graves, throwing off their robes and waiting to be judged – making sure to show how the good are accompanied to heaven and the rest are sent to hell.

What is seen today is a repaint of the original medieval work after that was covered over with limewash during the Reformation and not seen again until around the 19th century.

In the late 1800s it was found and repainted, then in 2019, more intensive work brought it back to life.

During the last restoration project, experts spent three months conserving the Doom painting. They secured plaster that was coming away from the wall and completely cleaned the image.

That deep clean revealed more intricate details and vibrant colours of the paining that had been hidden away for years.

A protective coating was then applied to help with maintenance in the future – and keep it in a state that will continue to attract international visitors for many years to come.

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