English Heritage cares for an incredible wealth of wall paintings and the Courtauld has supported their work over many years through research and practice. A new collaboration has recently been formalised focusing on the conservation of the wall paintings at Longthorpe Tower in Peterborough. Hidden under layers of limewash until 1945, the wall paintings are an extraordinarily survival from the 14th century and one of the most important and complete mediaeval secular schemes in northern Europe. The paintings depict an exceptional array of scenes that mix religious and didactic themes with morality tales, heraldry, local birds, mythical creatures and a rare depiction of the Wheel of Five Senses. The scheme offers insights into the priorities and ambitions of a socially aspirational family, and a very personal view of the mediaeval world.
Working in collaboration with English Heritage and building on investigations carried out by The Courtauld in the 1990s, the department is carrying out a project to conserve the paintings at the Tower. This partnership will enable access to research, expertise in wall painting care as well as cutting edge facilities at the Courtauld, and invaluable range of fieldwork experiences for generations of conservation students.
Outcomes of this partnership include:
- Conservation of the wall paintings at Longthorpe Tower in a biennial programme with a comprehensive recording, investigations, intervention and long-term management plan.
- In-depth analysis and research throughout the project with The Courtauld‘s expertise and knowledge of specialist diagnostic and analytical techniques.
- Closely supervised in situ training for Courtauld wall painting conservation Masters students, learning skills in recording, investigations, analysis and interventions, within an ethical and technical framework.
- Retrieval and collation of the substantial archival records and analytical data pertaining to the scheme, both at the Courtauld and English Heritage, as well as at the Royal Society of Antiquaries.
- Public engagement and outreach to audiences in the historic environment through a range of activities and events connected to the site.