Funds needed to preserve amazing 14th century wall paintings in Lincolnshire church

A village church needs thousands of pounds to preserve a number of 14th century wall paintings described as some of the finest in England.

St Andrew's Church, Pickworth, now has a roof again, but needs thousands more to cover conservation of its medieval wall paintings. EMN-210511-135411001
St Andrew's Church, Pickworth, now has a roof again, but needs thousands more to cover conservation of its medieval wall paintings. EMN-210511-135411001

St Andrew’s Church in Pickworth is a Grade I listed church, with a collection of medieval paintings in its nave dating from about 1380.

They were rediscovered after a stray bomb landed nearby in 1945 which shook off layers of limewash that covered “popish images” following the Reformation in the 16th Century.

The Church of England website states St Andrew’s ‘has some of the finest medieval wall paintings in England.’

The images of Doom/the Last Judgement on the east wall. EMN-210511-135401001

In January 2020, lead was stolen from the church roof. Of particular concern was the effect on the paintings. Having re-roofed the building the small parish faces a further financial struggle to preserve the wall art.

Churchwarden Jenny Seddon said they are awaiting a breakdown of costs for various stages of conservation. “We have been saving over the years in a special wall paintings fund, but have also been promised various donations which will help enormously.

“If needed, we will be applying for small grants which are available for this type of project, through the diocese.”

Liz Hirst and her experts at Hirst Conservation, based in nearby Laughton, have been working with the parish and are undertaking a detailed condition survey to decide what action is most urgent. They hope to first clean the paintings of bat droppings, dirt and debris.

South wall showing the Cauldron of God's Wrath. EMN-210511-135341001

Liz branded the artwork “priceless” but costing thousands to preserve.

She explained: “The people at that time couldn’t read and so this was a literal reminder.”

Images include St Christopher and the Christ child, the Three Living and the Three Dead, as reminders of the emptiness of riches, rank and mortality. The Weighing of Souls, and either the Ascension of Our Lord or the Assumption of the Virgin. The east wall depicts the Last Judgment and Cauldron of God’s Wrath. It has been a luxury for Liz’s team to be working on their doorstep, as their job takes them worldwide, most recently on the Canadian Parliament buildings in Ottawa.

Scaffolding erected for a conservation survey of paintings in Pickworth Church. EMN-210511-135351001