October’s heritage article has been contributed by Allan Poynton.
In October 1951 the Liverpool Daily Post contained articles headlined “Relics found in Hope Church” and “1533 Murals uncovered in Hope Parish Church”.The articles referred to extensive restoration that had been carried out in the previous 7 weeks during which workmen had initially uncovered small fragments of colour and then, as they proceeded carefully, more wall painted texts were revealed.
A London expert was consulted who visited Hope Church and she confirmed the significance of the findings. We are grateful that she treated the two areas of text on the arcading, thus ensuring that they have been available for us to admire and ponder over since their discovery.
Some 60 years later, in 2012, current members and friends of Hope Church agreed to set up Friends of Hope Parish Church with the intention of conserving the fabric and our most important artefacts. Our current project is to establish the status of these wall painted texts; perhaps a modern scholar could establish the current state of conservation, advise on if and how we can safely improve the appearance and clarity of the texts, and identify what the texts actually relate to.
So, on 29th August 2017, Dr Andrea Kirkham spent most of the day inspecting the two areas of text, plus the now very obscure fragments mounted on the wall opposite the vestry door.Andrea is a Registered Conservator specialising in wall texts, and has over the 30 years’ experience in this area. She was recommended to us by senior people at the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments for Wales.
She made a number of significant findings:
She believes the texts date from around 1630 (She suggests that the figures “1533” previously thought to refer to a date might actually be a Biblical reference)
As hinted in the 1951 reports there are earlier texts also partially exposed.
The 1950s treatment was wax based, a process no longer used and actually banned in the later 1950s since it attracts dust and reacts badly in damp conditions.
In small test areas Andrea was able to remove the wax to reveal a much clearer image.
As an aside, she remarked on the fact that the pulpit dates from the same period.
We now eagerly await the considered report from Andrea to provide us with more information and provide recommendations about how we might proceed.
The Friends have already sponsored the conservation of other church artefacts; it is likely that conservation of these texts would be significant but also a technical challenge and a correspondingly significant financial challenge. However, we have also discovered that there are many trusts around that are prepared to help by sponsoring work which enhances our understanding of the local heritage.
Friends always welcomes new members, and all members of the community are welcome to join. Application forms are available in church and on this website. Click here