PRESS RELEASE - 01/01/2009

 

Lakenheath’s Medieval Wall Paintings Saved for the Future

 

The unique and important wall paintings in St Mary’s Parish Church, Lakenheath, are to be conserved and preserved for future generations thanks to the award of generous funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The paintings, which date from the 13th – 17th centuries, show scenes from the life of Christ, angels, birds and local saint, King Edmund. Some of the medieval decoration is thought to be unique among surviving English wall paintings.

 

The paintings were discovered during restoration work carried out on the stunning medieval church in 1864. The lime wash, which had covered these colourful examples of medieval art since the reformation, was removed to reveal at least three individual and unique painting schemes – the earliest of which is thought to date to the 13th century. Having been exposed to the elements for over a century urgent work is now needed to maintain the stability of the paintings and the plaster onto which they were painted.

 

The HLF, along with a number of local organisations, have provided the funds to support a six month project aimed at conserving and explaining the wall paintings. The project intends to fully involve the local community in attempting to bring these fascinating examples of medieval art to wider public attention. As they stand, the wall paintings are seen as difficult to interpret and an important part of the project will be aimed at making them accessible to local schools and community groups via a series of free events.

 

These events include:-

· Hands on workshops and demonstrations

· Family activities

· Costumed live interpreters

· Educational and interpretation packs

Free public talks and lectures

 

Highlights of the project will include the creation of a modern wall painting by the local community as a lasting monument to the project and the development of a ‘wall painting trail’, linking Lakenheath to other East Anglian churches fortunate enough to have surviving wall paintings of their own. In addition, Roger Rosewell, the acclaimed author of Medieval Wall Paintings in English and Welsh Churches (Boydell and Brewer, 2008), will be presenting a special guest lecture to mark the projects completion. Once completed, the project will greatly enrich the experience and enjoyment of visitors to this magnificent and fascinating church.

 

Father Robert Leach, the vicar of St Mary’s, commenting on the award said,

 ‘We are deeply grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund for proving the funds to enable this project to proceed. Without their help these unique works of art would have faced an uncertain future.’

 

Newly appointed Project Manager, Matthew Champion, commenting upon the project said,

‘The wall paintings at Lakenheath are of national importance and the HLF funding will enable them to be preserved for future generations to enjoy. However, the project isn’t just about relics from the past. These fantastic images were originally paid for and created by the local community. This project aims to bring local people back into their church to rediscover their own parish heritage.’

 

Explaining the importance of the award Robert Llewellyn, Head of HLF, East of England said:

‘We are thrilled to help in conserving these important paintings. The project will give people much greater understanding about the significance of this artwork through a range of materials and new ways to explore their rich history.’

 

The project will begin in January 2009 and is anticipated to run until the end of June.

 

ENDS

 

For further information, please contact Project Manager, Matthew Champion, on 07810 677723 or by email at matt.champion@tiscali.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Notes to Editors

 

The Heritage Lottery Fund enables communities to celebrate, look after and learn more about our diverse heritage. The HLF has awarded grants totalling more than £270 million to over 2,700 projects across the East of England.

 

The total cost of the project is £54,011. A significant part of this funding has been provided as follows:-

 

· Heritage Lottery Fund (www.hlf.org.uk) - £32,500

· Suffolk Historic Churches Trust (www.shct.org.uk) - £7500

· Lakenheath Parish Council (www.lakenheathparishcouncil.org.uk) - £1000

· Forest Heath District Council (www.forest-heath.gov.uk) - £3000

· Council for the Care of Churches (www.churchcare.co.uk) - £5000

Anthony and Elizabeth Mellows Charitable Trust - £2000

 

Further information concerning Roger Rosewell and Medieval Wall Paintings in English and Welsh Churches can be found at www.wallpaintings.org