Historic family memorials get a brush up

JON WELCH Cash-for-honours might be a controversial topic now, but that wasn't the case 400 years ago.Large donations to King James I helped secure first a knighthood and then a baronetcy for the Pettus family, who are commemorated by monuments in St Simon and St Jude Church, Elm Hill, Norwich.

JON WELCH

Cash-for-honours might be a controversial topic now, but that wasn't the case 400 years ago.

Large donations to King James I helped secure first a knighthood and then a baronetcy for the Pettus family, who are commemorated by monuments in St Simon and St Jude Church, Elm Hill, Norwich.

The monuments, dating from the early 17th century, have fallen into disrepair, but are being brought back to life as part of a city-wide renovation scheme.


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One shows former Lord Mayor of Norwich Thomas Pettus, who died in 1597, and his wife Christine, kneeling at a prayer desk with their sons to one side and their daughters to another.

The other depicts Sir John Pettus, who was Lord Mayor in 1608 and subsequently Sheriff of Norwich. Above him are his son, Sir Augustine Pettus and daughter-in-law Abigail Hevingham.

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The monuments, made from alabaster, have had their colours dimmed by well-meaning but misguided attempts to varnish.

Now there are being painstakingly restored by conservator Angus Lawrence, who has been hired by the building's owner Norwich Historic Churches Trust as part of a programme to conserve up to 20 memorials.

The £70,000 project has been funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund and other bodies, including the Leche and Francis Coales Trusts.

Mr Lawrence said: “When I came here the memorials had been boxed up in cupboards and were absolutely filthy. They had also been given a very thick coating of beeswax and linseed oil. That has attracted further dust and grime and has been very difficult to remove.”

Anthony Barnes, of the trust, said: “They're looking considerably better and when we get the surrounds cleaned up they will look better still. They are not going to be hidden behind a cupboard this time.”

The church, last used for worship in the 1890s, has since been used by the Scouts and will shortly be occupied by the Anglia Academy of Dance, which will allow people to come in and view the monuments most afternoons.

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