Chancel: Under Restoration

During the Restoration

The links below take you to each week's development in the Restoration Project where you will find photos, videos and a couple of audio files detailing the progress of the work undertaken by Hirst Conservation.
Week 1On Wednesday 12th January, at 8am, we got going - the beginning of the end of a project that has taken 2 years to conceive.
Week 2The erection of scaffolding was competed and initial work began. Sybil's funeral interrupted work for about an hour on Friday.
Week 3Cleaning well under way. James our surveyor, went and inspected, and took some lovely photos with a fish eye lens.
Week 4Cleaning continues. Some of the white paint needs extra techniques and efforts to make it look really good.
Week 5Cleaning continues on the walls and the reredos.
Week 6During Half term work continued. We have agreed to ask Hirst’s to also clean the stained glass windows.
Week 7Cleaning continues on the walls and the reredos. Leicester University Art Student Yasmine paid us a visit on Monday to learn about restoration techniques.
Week 8Archdeacon Luke Miller paid us a visit. Further remedial works were identified, and James took some more stunning fish-eye shots!
Week 9Photographers and journalists from the Enfield Advertiser and Independent came to take pictures and write up the story of the Jubilee Link.
Week 10Work is nearing completion, and touching up is taking place. Window sills are also being mended.
Week 11Melanie from Highlands School came to visit as part of her Art Project. The restoration basically finished, and at the end of the week everything was varnished.
Week 12The Scaffolding is down and the job is done. What an amazing sight! Photos on this page are some more Fish Eye Lens ones taken by James.
Restoration Highlights
Jubilee Link discoveredIt had always occurred to us that our restoration of the Chancel would coincide nicely with the Diamond Jubilee this year, and to discover this inscription, specifically dedicating it to Queen Victoria is wonderfully exciting. So now we dedicate our restoration to Queen Elizabeth, in tribute to her long and faithful reign.
John Boffin and the TitanicHaving publicised the story of the Diamond Jubilee Link, with our Ceiling and walls, we discovered another connection...
Chancel InscriptionsAs well as finding the Jubilee Inscription on the Ceiling, we also found inscriptions recording the names of the Vicar and Churchwardens, and of those who actually painted the ceiling and Walls of the Chancel.

Introduction to the restoration

A significant and lively piece of our town’s history is to be restored in the coming weeks. The chancel wall paintings and ceiling inside St Mary Magdalene’s Church on top of Windmill Hill are to be cleaned and restored thanks to a grant of £50,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Added to generous donations from members of the community, the target of £80,000 has been raised and work can now begin. The Vicar and PCC are extremely grateful for all the support and assistance given by the Society and others, and are indebted to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a grant without which we could not proceed.

Scaffolding has been erected, and the work should be complete by the end of March. And what a transformation will have taken place: vivid imagery of the Magi, angels Prophets and Patriarchs will look as good as new, with gilded wings and crowns. The wooden roof, caked in dirt will gleam with red and gold and green, and damaged paintwork will be carefully retouched and restored using advanced and authorized techniques.

Anyone desiring to come and see the work in progress would be welcome to do so, but please, by prior arrangement with the Vicar. Sunday and weekday services will continue as normal with insignificant disruption. Then, once the work is complete, there will be a rededication service and events throughout the year celebrating the achievement. The most significant of these will be on Sunday 13th May, when Dr. Ayla Lepine from the Courtauld Institute will give a lecture and ‘guided tour’ of the newly restored artwork. Dr Lepine is an expert on late Victorian Ecclesiastical Artwork, and we are delighted to have secured her support and enthusiasm. There will also be a lecture - date to be advised – when the conservators, Hirsts of Spalding, will explain the processes and techniques they will have used. Both lectures promise to be stimulating and fascinating.

Furthermore, if any group would like to make a visit, the Vicar, the Reverend Gordon Giles (, would be delighted to organize that in addition to planned open days, services, lectures and concerts which will take place during 2012.

The Church was built in 1883 by William Butterfield, commissioned by Georgiana Twells, in memory of Philip Twells MP. They lived at Chase Side House, of which the gardens now form our Town Park. After the completion of the Church, her final gift was the internal artwork, by Buckeridge and Westlake, which once restored will probably be some of the finest artwork on show in the Borough.