The Wall Paintings of Holy Trinity Church, Dartford


Historian and author, Toni Mount, enjoys really getting a deep understanding of her characters, the lives they lived and the places they visited. For “The Colour of Sin”, her main characters were off on pilgrimage and that meant a lot of interesting places to research. Here, Toni talks about Holy Trinity Church in Dartford and how pilgrimage actually worked. Over to Toni Mount…

We visited Dartford in Kent to do some research for my next novel in the Sebastian Foxley medieval murder series The Colour of Sin. In his twelfth adventure, Seb leaves his home in London to go on a pilgrimage to Canterbury and stops at Dartford on the way, as Chaucer’s pilgrims do in The Canterbury Tales. With his fellow pilgrims, Seb visits the medieval Holy Trinity Church at the bottom of East Hill and even today, it is well worth a visit.

My story is set in 1480 and Seb is a talented artist, so imagine my delight when I read the church guide book and looked for no.18 on the plan. It’s a fabulous mural dated to c.1480, although different guides and websites give variations between 1470 and the 1500s but it was commissioned in 1477. You’ll have to look high up – I missed it the first time I searched – but it’s a huge mural painting of St George and a scary dragon. It’s not well lit and appears dark with light from a window glaring on the bottom right hand corner but if you take a flash photo, you can see it much better. As you can guess, our hero, Seb, will have something to say about it in the novel.

In the novel, Seb makes friends with the limner who is painting the mural. I’ve called him Miles Paynter but he’s purely fictional as the artist is unknown. Seb also meets the priest, John Gurnes, whose name appears on the list of vicars of Dartford inside the church – apologies to any relatives of John as I’ve made him a rather unsympathetic character.

Holy Trinity Church has quite a few medieval brasses and an Elizabethan tomb to England’s first paper-maker, John Spilman. He and his wife were actually German and their tomb inscription is in German as well as Latin and English. The queen granted him a monopoly on making paper from linen rags. He used a watermark on his paper of a jester’s hat so it was known as ‘foolscap’ paper and Shakespeare wrote his plays on it.

Another memorial brass is that of William De’ath who was one of the founders of Dartford Grammar School in 1576 which was later attended by Mick Jagger of Rolling Stones’ fame. William’s first wife Elizabeth – also on the brass – gave him fifteen children but died giving birth to the last who was buried with her mother. William wed again so his numerous children could be cared for and his second wife, Anne, didn’t add to the brood but inherited William’s estate when he died in 1591 and is to William’s right on the brass. Both wives wear stylish Elizabethan hats.

A home-grown genius whose story is also told on a monument in the church was Richard Trevithick, original inventor of the steam loco amongst many other things such as the propeller, steam ships, ice-making machines and hot air heaters. Sadly, he forgot his patents had to be renewed and others pinched his ideas. He was building the first steam ship in a shipyard at Northfleet – also visited by the pilgrims in my novel – but was lodging at the Bull [& Victoria] Hotel in Dartford when he died but that was in 1833 before ‘Victoria’ was added to the hotel’s name in 1837.

The vicar listed in 1845 is one Clotworthy Gillmor. Now there’s a name to conjure with. He’ll have to be a character in one of my future novels. Can’t let a name like that go to waste.

There’s a lot more to see on Holy Trinity Church, Dartford and the pleasant café by which you enter the church serves great cheese scones, so I recommend a visit if you’re in north Kent any time.

More about The Colour of Sin

ISBN: 978-84-125953-8-3
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Toni Mount’s Website:

The Colour of Sin

Come with Seb Foxley, Rose and their enigmatic friend Kit, a priest with a shadowy past, as they join a diverse group of pilgrims on what should be an uplifting spiritual journey to Canterbury Cathedral.

Beset by natural disasters and unexplained deaths, the dangers become apparent. Encountering outlaws and a fearsome black cat, every step is fraught with peril.

Amidst the chaos, Seb finds himself grappling with the mysteries surrounding him, as well as his own demons, while Rose’s reunion with her family sets off a chain of events with unforeseen consequences.

But the greatest threat lies in the shadows, where sinister forces unleash evil upon the unsuspecting pilgrims. In a world where trust is a scarce commodity and even allies may harbour dark intentions, Seb must uncover the truth and protect his fellow travellers.

Prepare to be enthralled by a tale of betrayal, intrigue and redemption as Seb Foxley races against time to unravel the malevolent secrets hidden within the heart of the pilgrimage. Who can you trust when even friends prove false?
Praise for Toni Mount’s Sebastian Foxley Medieval Murder Mystery Series

“An evocative masterclass in storytelling.” – Tony Riches, author of The Tudor Trilogy
“It’s superb. What a plot. What characters” – Carol McGrath, author of the She-wolves trilogy
“Toni mount gives you a real sense of actually being there”
“an excellent mystery, with multi-layers of plot”
“Much better than the average period detective story.”
“Toni Mount brings characters leaping off the page… plots that twist and turn, I am in heaven when reading her books”

Information about the Poster Giveaway

Want the chance to win a unique poster of The Colour of Sin by Toni Mount, the twelfth book in her Sebastian Foxley Medieval Murder Mystery series. You’ll be the only person in the world to have this full colour poster!
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