Hidden Treasures at St Martin's Church

Pew Cushion volunteers

St Martin’s Church won the SPAB John Betjeman Award 2015 for the sensitive repair of the Evelyn Gibbs mural.

Making a difference

How the project achieved outcomes for heritage

  • The wall paintings have been revealed and are in far better condition through a painstaking conservation programme
  • The wall paintings will be better managed in the future because the environmental conditions within the building are well understood and the temperature and humidity can be appropriately controlled as a result of a new and more appropriate heating system being installed

How the project achieved outcomes for people

  • The wall paintings were hidden for more than 30 years and their story had been forgotten. Through the project the local community and visitors have learned about the artist, Evelyn Gibbs, and also about the very special heritage of this church and its hidden treasure.

How the project achieved outcomes for communities

  • Negative environmental impacts have been reduced through the installation of a heating system that is more suited to providing a stable temperature in the building. Drainage works have helped to ensure that level of dampness within the building fabric have been reduced ensuring the long term stability of the wall painting

Lessons learnt

Trying to balance the needs of the building and its contents in order to achieve a positive solution is not always easy but it can be achieved. Seeking advice from appropriate specialists early in the process helps to inform and guide the decision-making process and also hopes to avoid potentially costly mistakes. It is also important to ensure that enough time is allowed in the development phase to consider all the options holistically and to ensure that the consequences of decisions are fully thought through and tested.

As projects like Hidden Treasures are technically quite demanding, a competent and enthusiastic project team is key to achieving a successful outcome. Input from volunteers is also crucial, and is often underestimated, though their energy and capacity is a vital ingredient. Leadership is also important as one person alone can’t deliver the best outcomes.

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