Longthorpe Tower is a medieval house near Peterborough,
Cambridgeshire, containing the most important surviving medieval domestic paintings in England.
They decorate the Great Chamber, an upper room of a tower, which was added to an
earlier manor house.
This section of the building seems to have been erected in the early 14th
century, possibly by Robert de Thorpe, steward of Peterborough Abbey from 1330 and tenant of
The paintings are generally dated to c. 1330 on stylistic grounds. The
decoration covers all the walls, the window splays and the vault. In the vault are the four
Evangelist Symbols and David with his Musicians.
On the walls and the window splays are the Labours of the Months, various birds
and animals, the Apostles holding scrolls with the articles of the Creed accompanied by
personifications of the Church, a scene involving a hermit, the Seven Ages of Man, the Nativity,
the Three Living and the Three Dead, aWheel of the Five Senses and seated figures of Edward III and
Edmund Woodstock, Earl of Kent.
There are several other subjects, the meaning of which is uncertain owing to the
loss of the accompanying inscriptions. The reason for the inclusion of Edmund Woodstock
(1301–1330), who was executed in 1330, is not clear: he was the most important tenant of nearby
Peterborough Abbey, but there may have been some political meaning to his portrayal with Edward
The programme is encyclopaedic in character, combining religious and moral
teachings with secular themes and including some unusual representations: the Wheel of the Five
Senses, of which there is a related late 13th-century version in Tre Fontane Abbey, Rome, shows a
wheel held steady by a king, possibly personifying common sense, with various creatures
personifying the senses around its perimeter.
Longthorpe Tower Visits
Inside of Longthorpe Tower can be seen one of the most beautiful
and significant collections of 14th century domestic wall paintings in Europe.
Longthorpe Tower is open for visits. For more information about the tickets
and opening hours visit the the official website.
Longthorpe Tower Map
The Longthorpe Tower is located in the village of Longthorpe near
Peterborough, UK, at the following address: Thorpe Rd, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire PE3 6LU, UK.
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