The Victorian Murals in St. Thomas' Church
Paintings on church walls in Medieval times were there to tell Bible stories or to instruct those who could not read.
Canon E. B. Savage (Vicar of St. Thomas' Church 1882 - 1914) felt that the Gothic style of building in St. Thomas' lent itself to wall painting. His idea for a scheme of decoration was converted into pictures by renowned local artist John Millar Nicholson and then painted by the firm of Nicholson Brothers of Well Road Hill, Douglas. As in Ancient times, the work was the best it could possibly be for the GLORY OF GOD.
The overall thought throughout the scheme of decoration is, "THE CHRISTIAN LIFE".
Below is a brief summary of the paintings, their location and their meaning.
The beautiful Nicholson Murals, which cover some 520 square metres (622 square yards) of wall space, are best seen in their full glory by visiting the church.
West Wall (behind and above you as you enter through the main door)- The Tree of Life, which in the beginning was cut off from us by Adam's sin is guarded by Cherubim with flaming swords
The Cherubim with their flaming swords guarding the Tree of Life.
These can be seen on the North and South facing walls either side if the west window in the gallery. Can you spot the differences?
Archway 1 - Representation of Jewish Worship
The Altar of Incense
The Arc of the Covenant
The Table of Shewbread
Archway 2 - Representation of the Evangelists, who wrote the gospel of Christ for us.
St. Matthew - a man -
showing Christ's humanity
St. Mark - a lion-
showing Christ's active
life and work
St. Luke - an Ox-
showing Christ's sacrifice
St. John - an eagle
soaring high -
showing the spiritual
Archway 3 - Emblems of Christian Faith.
The Lamb of God
The Pelican showing
The Phoenix showing
The dove showing
the holy spirit
Archway 4 - Faith in everyday Life.
Vine branch signifying
Christ, the source of
spiritual life and growth
The lily signifying
Chancel - Triumphal Hymns with Angels and Archangels
Over the organ - Angels with trumpets
St. Michael fighting the seven headed dragon.
The Annunciation and
multitude of nations
A 'great multitude of all nations and tongues'
(N.B. characteristic ethnic faces)
Between the main pictures and texts the walls are decorated with wheat and grapes - symbols of the Holy Communion.
Between the windows - again THE TREE OF LIFE now restored to us through Christ's redeeming love.
To God Be The Glory
Other features - under the arches
Each archway is decorated with a different pattern. No two are the same.
SPECIAL STAMP ISSUE
In August 2013 the Isle of Man Post Office produced a Miniature Sheet of 2 stamps with £1 and £2 values. The stamps were produced to celebrate the outstanding murals by renowned Manx artist John Miller Nicholson (1840-1913) in the centenary year of his death.