Extremely rare and important 700 year old wall paintings are undergoing conservation at English Heritage’s Longthorpe Tower in Peterborough. A twelve-week project by the charity in partnership with The Courtauld Institute of Art has seen students conduct a hi-tec examination of the paintings in preparation for conservation, and look for hidden aspects to the paintings not visible by the naked eye.
The much needed conservation treatment will begin to stabilise plaster and seek to minimise the appearance of old restorations allowing the original scheme to take centre stage. The second phase of the project has begun today (29 April), and Longthorpe Tower is now open on weekends for visitors to get a sneak peek of the conservation in action.
Longthorpe Tower in Peterborough contains one of the most complete and important schemes of medieval domestic painting of its date in Europe. The tower, built in 1300, forms part of an earlier fortified manor house owned by the de Thorpe family and the paintings themselves were rediscovered in 1945 under layers of limewash. The paintings contain biblical, moral, and didactic subjects, with an unusual and rare Wheel of Five Senses, where the senses are represented symbolically: taste as a monkey eating, touch as a spider’s web, smell as a vulture, hearing as a boar, and sight as a cockerel.
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