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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.

High up on the wall, hidden out of sight and written in pencil are the names of some of the workmen who so painstakingly created these beautiful murals. They clearly spent years working on them. We know this because, Louis Cain added the following heartfelt words below his signature, "I am sick of this job - been three years on it".  A belated thank you to Louis and his colleagues. We appreciate your hard work!

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
                 North Wall

The Altar of Incense

The Arc of the Covenant

South Wall

The Menorah

The Table of Shewbread

Archway 2 - Representation of the Evangelists, who wrote the gospel of Christ for us.
North Wall

St. Matthew - a man -

showing Christ's humanity

St. Mark - a lion-

showing Christ's active

life and work

South Wall

St. Luke - an Ox-

showing Christ's sacrifice

St. John - an eagle

soaring high -

showing the spiritual


Archway 3 - Emblems of Christian Faith.
North Wall

The Lamb of God

The Pelican showing

self sacrifice

South Wall

The Phoenix showing

the resurrection

The dove showing

the holy spirit

Archway 4 - Faith in everyday Life.
North Wall
Vine branch signifying
Christ, the source of
spiritual life and growth
The lily signifying
Chancel - Triumphal Hymns with Angels and Archangels
North Wall

Over the organ - Angels with trumpets

St. Michael fighting the seven headed dragon.

South Wall

The Annunciation and

multitude of nations

The Annunciation

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.

East Wall

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.



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.

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