The Three Quick and the Three Dead

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Three Quick and the Three Dead, medieval wall painting raunds northamptonshire

 

This was a popular story from the end of the C13 which originated in France. The story tells of three kings who when out hunting come across three corpses. The corpses tell the kings that they are their ancestors, and then berate them for their life of pleasure. The earliest recording of the story in England comes from Shropshire.1

 

Medieval fresco, Three quick and three dead, Lutterworth

 

This example is 14th century painting in the parish church of St Mary, Lutterworth, Leicestershire. It would have been in the church when John Wycliffe was the vicar there from between 1371 until his death in 1384.2

 

Only the images of the two kings and queen survive the skeletal corpses on to the right of the image are barely visible. Interestingly during restoration work in 1983-4 remnants of another 14th century painting were uncovered that had been painted over this one. However, not much is left of this other painting and it is not known what it is supposed to depict nor whether it was ever completed.3