The work by English Heritage comes as part of a nationwide effort to safeguard all 77 precious wall paintings in their portfolio
A team of expert conservators from English Heritage have begun restoration work on a rare medieval mural at a castle in Somerset.
The image of St George at Farleigh Hungerford Castle was commissioned as part of refurbishments in the 1440s by Walter, First Lord of Hungerford.
But damp conditions and misguided early 20th century attempts at preservation have left the saintly figure in need of urgent care.
Conservators have begun the task of refixing flaking paint and removing damaging wax residue on the mural, as part of a programme of work to conserve the painted interiors of the castle’s chapel.
The image of England’s patron saint is the most substantial remaining wall painting and shows the figure of a kneeling knight wearing a tabard with the Hungerford arms alongside.
Since their discovery in 1844, the murals have been damaged by damp conditions and erroneous preservative treatment.
Hot wax, applied between 1931 and 1955, drew up red pigments from the under-layer of paint and turned the backdrop from the intended light grey to a pinkish colour.
Rachel Turnbull, English Heritage’s senior collections conservator, said: “Farleigh Hungerford’s wall paintings are a beautiful and important example of medieval art, giving us a unique insight into the once rich interiors of the castle.
“Conserving centuries-old artworks like these is a delicate and complex task, and we can see here how previous, well-meaning conservators sometimes got it wrong.
“Our expert conservators have carefully analysed the condition of the wall paintings to find just the right method for each part of the work. It’s a painstaking process, but vital to ensure these historic paintings can be enjoyed by generations to come.”
The work by English Heritage comes as part of a nationwide effort to safeguard all 77 precious wall paintings in English Heritage’s portfolio.
These include murals at Bolsover Castle, Lullingstone Roman Villa, Wrest Park, Berry Pomeroy Castle, and Longthorpe Tower.