Dr Kate Giles on the Wall Paintings at Pickering Church (23 February 2016)

[from the York Press, 19 February 2016]

A PROJECT to highlight one of Yorkshire’s hidden gems is being launched in Pickering.

Pickering Parish Church is aiming to conserve its wall paintings and improve visitor facilities through a Heritage Lottery Fund Project “Let there be Light”.

Father Antony Pritchett, Vicar of Pickering, said: “The present church has stood in the town for almost 1,000 years, and painted on to its walls are what have been described as Yorkshire’s hidden gem – medieval images of saints and sinners, of kings and conquerors.

The wall paintings were painted about 1450 but then covered over at the Reformation. Rediscovered in 1852, they were then painted over again, only to be restored in the 1880s.

Fr Pritchett said the wall paintings had delighted and thrilled people ever since.

“Pickering’s wall paintings are amazing,” he said.

“Visitors enter the church, and just gasp out loud at seeing the paintings because they’ve probably never seen anything like them before.

“Pickering has one of the most complete sets of medieval wall paintings in the country, and increasingly they are being considered one of the most important examples of their kind in northern Europe.”

Fr Pritchett said the Parish Church was hoping to get Heritage Lottery Funds to help clean and better conserve the paintings, and to improve visitor facilities, including improved lighting.

The church is also working closely on this project with the University of York, and the main speaker at the Heritage Lottery Launch will be Dr Kate Giles, leading expert on Pickering’s wall paintings.

Fr Pritchett said: “Dr Giles has talked to many groups about Pickering’s wall paintings, though I believe that this is the first time she will actually have done so in the building itself. Most recently she was talking about them on television.

“At the launch event we will be displaying some early drawings of the wall paintings not generally on public view, so it’s going to be a really good, fascinating and quite thrilling evening.”

Following the talk there will be an opportunity for the audience to offer views, ideas and suggestions on the project.

Fr Pritchett said: “Pickering is very fortunate to have these wall paintings – once seen they are never forgotten – and I think we could make a fantastic visitor experience which would be great for Pickering and great for Ryedale.

The launch meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 23, at 7.30pm, in Pickering Parish Church.

There is no charge for the evening, and refreshments will be available.

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