Christopher - or ‘Kit’ as he likes to be known, is an apprentice to a Master Painter in Coventry. He is a fictional character, but is probably typical of the apprentice painters who worked on the Guild Chapel and other religious buildings in the region in the early sixteenth century, prior to the Reformation. Kit’s father is not a painter, but he has an older brother who will inherit the family business and so Kit is making his own way in the world - just like Hugh Clopton!
Kit would have left home at 12, entering a seven-year apprenticeship and working his way up to become a journeyman and then (he hopes!) a master in the Coventry Painters’ guild. He’s currently at the bottom of the ladder, but he can see a fantastic future mapped out for himself, surrounded in Coventry by churches, monasteries and houses needing regular updating, particularly as a result of patronage from wealthy merchants like Clopton.
Perhaps Stratford feels a bit sleepy in contrast to Coventry. But Kit would have been really impressed by Hugh Clopton’s wealth and the fact that he had a house in Stratford and London... and not just two houses, but also plans for two different burial places depending on where he died. He would have been particularly impressed by Clopton’s vision for rebuilding and decorating the Guild Chapel. Some of the images would have been familiar to him, such as the Doom (he and his master might have looked at Coventry’s slightly earlier version for inspiration); but others, such as the Dance of Death must have seemed very unusual.
Kit feels that his Master doesn’t quite recognise his talent. He does the grunt work whilst his master reminds him that things were much worse in his day! Kit is looking to the future and the century ahead... whilst his Master, Hugh Clopton and his friend, Thomas Hannys are all rather stuck in the past.
We meet Kit, however, facing the realities of apprentice life... stumbling out of the chapel having slept on a pallet there whilst his master stays in a local inn. It’s been a late night the night before at the local alehouse and he’s looking for food! He’d hoped the nearby market stalls around the White Cross would be open but it looks like everyone is having a bit of a late start today, so he’s happy to show you around the town and look for breakfast together.