KING’S LYNN: Chapel restoration brings a colourful blast from the past
After more than a year of cleaning and painting, the Bishop of Lynn unveiled St Nicholas Chapel’s restored west doors in all of their Medieval glory on Sunday afternoon.
Blessing the doors and rededicating them for public use, the Rt Rev Jonathan Meyrick said: “May they bring colour to the lives of all those who look upon them and pass through them.”
Conservationists have spent the last 13 months restoring the paintwork of the doors to look the way they would have 500 years ago after flecks of red and green paint were found buried under 17 layers dating back to 1460.
Peter Aiers, director for the South East Churches Conservation Trust (CCT), said: “We are very excited about the new look doors, the bright red and green might lead passers by to wonder whether the decorators got a bit over-excited when repainting, but in fact the doors look today much like they would have done centuries ago.”
Brian Clark, regional conservation manager for the CCT, said: “Their remarkable composition shows that Lynn was no provincial backwater, but a patron of the finest contemporary design in its position at the forefront of international trade and diplomacy.”
The project has taken more than 10 years from the initial fundraising to the painstaking research and consultation with conservation experts, before the decision was made by the CCT to return the doors to their medieval colours.
The project was overseen by architect Canon Julian Limentani, with paint repairs carried out by a team from Arte Conservation and a team of experts dealing with the timber repairs and carving where water had become trapped in the wood.
Mr Limentani said: “It has been such a long project because we were dealing with ornate wooden doors with a lot of carving on them that had then been painted.
“Very, very few of these doors have been painted, if any, and that is what makes these doors absolutely unique.
“It was good to see so many people so pleased with them - this vivid green and red is more garish than present tastes, but it would have been all the rage in medieval times.”
The project has been supported throughout by the Friends of St Nicholas Chapel and the King’s Lynn Civic Society, who donated £2,000 towards the work.
Brian Chase, chairman of the Friends of St Nicholas’ Chapel, said: “It’s wonderful to see the doors unveiled. It’s taken just over 13 months to complete – it’s been a long process and we’ve had fantastic craftsmen working on stripping down the doors, cleaning them and repainting them.
“It’s the first section of the building to be completed and has been a long time coming - the fundraising for the work on the doors has happened gradually over 10 years and we have been waiting for permission to get started on the work.”
The unveiling of the doors is just the first step in a long-term conservation and restoration project which aims to turn the 12th century Chapel and landmark for Lynn into a centre for the community and a high-quality cultural venue for the town.
The Friends of St Nicholas Chapel have nearly raised the £210,000 needed to release a lottery funding grant of £1.5million, which will be used to make improvements such as installing a new heating and lighting system, kitchen and toilet facilities, a new roof and solar panels.
Mr Chase added: “We are now awaiting news of whether we have been successful with our application for lottery funding for the rest of the work on the Chapel. We should hear by the end of the month.”
After the blessing, the voices of the King’s Lynn Festival Chorus filled the Chapel to the rafters – see Friday’s Weekend Live for a review of the concert.
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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