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Can you help save our ancient wall paintings?

PUBLISHED: 13:58 24 September 2019 | UPDATED: 14:35 24 September 2019

Part of the ceiling of the prior's house at Castle Acre Priory Picture: Pat Payne/Histroci England

Part of the ceiling of the prior's house at Castle Acre Priory Picture: Pat Payne/Histroci England

Historic England 2007. All rights reserved. http://www.HistoricEngland.org.uk/images-books/archive/archive-services/archive-terms-and-conditions

Priceless religious wall paintings are at risk, warns a charity launching an appeal to save them.

A faded painting in Greyfriars' Cloisters, Great Yarmouth Picture: Steve Cole/Historic EnglandA faded painting in Greyfriars' Cloisters, Great Yarmouth Picture: Steve Cole/Historic England

English Heritage warns the ancient relics are at risk from the vagaries of our climate and ham-fisted past efforts to restore them. It fears works at some of the 77 sites it cares for, including five in Norfolk, could disappear forever.

They include 13th Century patterning and a 14th Century rendition of the Magi at Castle Acre Priory, near Swaffham; 12th Century decorative lettering at Binham Priory, near Wells and 12th Century decorations at Castle Rising Castle, near King's Lynn.

Norfolk's riches also include 12th Century patterning at Thetford Priory and 14th Century motifs including the Virgin Mary at Greyfriars' Abbey, Great Yarmouth.

Rachel Turnbull, English Heritage's senior collections conservator, said: "Wall paintings are the most challenging type of art to care for, but they offer a precious insight into England's story.

Binham Priory, which has 12th Century lettering  Picture: Historic EnglandBinham Priory, which has 12th Century lettering Picture: Historic England

"For thousands of years people of the past have left little traces, glimpses into their everyday lives through richly decorated wall paintings. Be they domestic or religious, these artworks tell a story about the people who painted them and the communities who lived or worshipped in these buildings centuries ago."

English Heritage's collection stretches back as far as the painted walls at Lullingstone Roman Villa in Kent to the Victorian gothic decoration at St Mary's Church Studley Royal in North Yorkshire.

Many of the wall paintings in the collection are at medieval abbeys, priories and churches, ranging from simple decoration to large-scale religious scenes and include the internationally-important art at St Mary's Church, Kempley in Gloucestershire.

It is now checking all the wall paintings in its care to accurately assess the extent of the deterioration and set out the conservation solution for each.

Castle Rising Castle, which also has 12th Century decorations  Picture: Historic EnglandCastle Rising Castle, which also has 12th Century decorations Picture: Historic England

It says £20 could buy specialist mortar for repairs, £40 could combat flaking surfaces while £70 will pay for multispectural imaging, revealing details invisible to the human eye.

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