A set of medieval wallpaintings in St Mary’s Church in Chalgrove will be restored after England’s Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £544,000 to the project.
The church, located in South Oxfordshire, has three walls painted with images from the Bible, including the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and the assumption of the Virgin Mary. The wall paintings were done in the 1320s, but after the Reformation they were covered up with lime wash. It was not until 1858 that they were rediscovered during renovations to the church.
Beginning on June 1st, St Mary’s Church will close to allow the conservation work on the wall paintings, and explore other walls in the church for further hidden paintings. New heating and lighting systems will also be added. It is expected that the church will be closed for eight months.
The church’s Vicar, Reverend Ian Cohen, explained that the painting “are very much in code with designs from all across Europe so that, where we’ve lost bits and pieces of wall paintings in the past, we can reconstruct what would have been there or the sort of thing that would have been there.”
Stuart McLeod, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund South East, added “Chalgrove Church houses a rare near-complete set of wall paintings which offer a unique insight into Christian beliefs in the 14th century, with even more paintings potentially waiting to be uncovered. We’re pleased to support the church and the local community as they develop their plans to secure the future of their much-loved building and its assets and open them up for even more people to enjoy.”
The church still needs to raise £50,000 and are looking for donations. Please visit their website to learn how.
On Sunday, April 19th, the church will be hosting an open day for members of the public to learn more about the restoration plans and raise funds for the project.