The Building Conservation Directory 2024

140 THE BUILDING CONSERVATION DIRECTORY 2024 CATHEDRAL COMMUNICATIONS COVER UP Paddy Room, St John’s College, Oxford CONSERVE AND PRESENT AS FOUND St Mary’s Church, Kirtlington The focus of the project was on the conservation of the wall painting itself; it was not a component within a broader reordering or refurbishment initiative. The 15th-century wall painting depicts St George slaying a dragon, a female figure those living in rural Britain. A condition survey of the wall painting determined that it required minimal consolidation of powdery render in areas of damage, some readhesion of paint flakes, and a dry clean to remove superficial dust and grime (deposited during recent roofing works). Due to the above, there was no discussion of interventions to enhance the legibility of the painting by adding anything (retouching). Instead, the legibility of the scheme was improved through cleaning and the installation of an information board was suggested as an alternative method of interpretation. Intended function of the space: unchanged Cultural and historical significance of the painting: extremely high Condition of the painting: fairly stable Requirements/wishes of owners and other stakeholders: happy to be advised by heritage professionals and conservators Intended function of the space: changed from library – nature and condition of space significantly changed Cultural and historical significance of the painting: high – however, the historic wood panelling also has heritage value and was considered to be more in keeping with the desired aesthetic of the space Condition of the painting: unstable in both substrate and paint layers Requirements/wishes of owners and other stakeholders: design and project team with clearly defined outcomes from start of project The 15th-century wall painting in the church of St Mary the Virgin, Kirtlington which was preserved to prevent further paint loss kneeling in prayer and St Christopher carrying Christ across a river. Although similar schemes exist across England and Wales, these paintings provide cultural and historical evidence of the late-middle ages and show something of the customs of Wall paintings at St John’s College, Oxford: the coat of arms is now hidden behind the panelling (left), but the floral spray (right) was cleaned and conserved to improve its legibility and can now be seen by opening a door in the panelling. The Paddy Room was originally divided into smaller rooms, each containing a fireplace. Wall paintings originally decorated the walls above the fireplaces, until they were historically obscured behind wood panelling. The two surviving paintings were probably rediscovered during works in the 1970s. One depicts a coat of arms, which was described by architectural historian Howard Colvin as the ‘Founder’s Achievement’ (or Thomas White’s Coat of Arms). The other depicts an elaborate, bluegreen floral spray. Analysis found that the blue pigment from the second painting was Prussian blue, providing the earliest date of execution as 1704 when this pigment was discovered. This area of St John’s College was extensively renovated by Wright & Wright Architects through a threephase masterplan during which a new library and study centre were created nearby, and the Paddy Room converted back into five tutors’ rooms. During the renovation, a conservation approach was followed where feasible, led