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Spotlight: Saving the hidden text at All Saints Church

Icon Trustee Peter Martindale ACR has recently been involved in the conservation works at All Saints Church, Steeple Langford, where painted texts were discovered under layers of overpaint in 2017. Take a look at the delicate craftsmanship bringing the texts back to life!


In March 2017, restoration works in All Saints Church unexpectedly revealed painted texts on either side of the window in the east wall of the chancel. Layers of overpaint had concealed the paintings until the building contractor stripped them, revealing the hidden text yet also causing some severe damage. Only part of the original text remained on the North of the window, though fortunately the portion on the South remained largely intact thanks to being obscured under a veil of residual overpaint. 

Subsequently, a condition report was commissioned in 2017 which then led to the commissioning of treatment trials in the spring of 2018.  Trials showed that it was possible to reveal the obscured text to the south of the window using a combination of mechanical means aided with a small jet of steam.

The current programme of conservation involves fully revealing the text to the south of the window and undertaking a minor amount of retouching.  Paint remaining from the letters to the north of the window is being consolidated, and lost letters are being reconstructed so as to match the text to the south of the window.

Although the date of the texts is not known for certain, it’s believed they may be contemporary with the stained glass in the east window which dates from the first decade of the C 20th (1900 – 1910). This fits in perfectly with the tesseral nature of this Grade I listed building, which houses pre-Conquest stonework and sculpture alongside extensive victorian era reconstruction.


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