Restoration: Week Three

A full week of cleaning, undisturbed by funerals or other events. Evidence of the work is becoming visible, particularly through a little gap which gives a tantalising view from the floor as we look up! James our surveyor, went and inspected, and took some lovely photos with a fish eye lens. We have our first photos of completed work, and a short video - see below. Church does get very dirty during the week though!

And we have an article going in the Enfield Society Newsletter:

Historic buildings

Chancel Restoration at St Mary Magdalene Enfield

Members of the Society will be pleased to know that 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 Ac community - and from the Enfield Society of course - 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.

Regular photos and updates will appear on the church's website at

Anyone desiring to come and sec 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 2012, 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.

Gordon Giles

Restoration of the ceiling paintings. Music: Vaughan Williams from Suite de Ballet, played by Gordon Giles and Roddy Elmer.

Photos © Gordon Giles