£10,000 anonymous gift kickstarts rare mural restoration fund

A rare mural is to be restored during a year of good works to mark 900 years of worship at St Peter’s Church, Birstall, thanks to a generous donation.

Revd Paul Knight is on a mission to restore the Frampton mural above its main arch which was painted in 1901 and is one of only three in the country.

Revd Paul said they were now half way to having the necessary funds to restore the mural: “We still need to raise a significant amount, but we were set off on this journey by a recent anonymous donation by one of our parishioners.

“It was for £10,000.

“So, after I picked myself up off the floor, we decided to give it a go and we are in the process of applying to various grant-giving bodies in a bid to raise the rest of the money.”

E. Reginald Frampton was a prolific pre-Raphaelite artist who painted many murals around the country but most were either destroyed during the two world wars or have otherwise been allowed to decay.

The Birstall mural is the oldest of the surviving religious Frampton murals, dating from 1901.

At some point in the mid-20th Century, a coat of varnish was applied to it by a well meaning amateur, significantly darkening it.

Revd Paul told the Yorkshire Post this week said: “The fact it’s in a parish church in the north of England from a well known artist from the south makes it special, there are not many about.

“It was created to help people in worship and when people are sitting there and they look up and see this glorious fresco of Christ in majesty surrounded by angels and saints, it’s really quite symbolic.

“Our hope is that once it is restored it will gleam.”

The timing of the gift also coincides with plans for St Peter’s 900th anniversary, beginning on St Peter’s Day (June 29) this year and ending on the same in 2020.

“We are planning to develop the museum corner in the church. There will be concerts, dinners, and a murder mystery banquet.

“We’re going to plant 900 bulbs in the church yard and perform 900 acts of kindness around the community.

“There will also be speakers, including bishops and a ‘songs of praise’ event in May 2020, to which we want to invite church members who are in what was the ancient parish of Birstall, which stretched to Tong and Wyke and took in Heckmondwike, Liversedge, Gomersal and Birkenshaw,” Revd Paul said.

To read the Yorkshire Post article in full, go to: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/mission-to-revive-rare-mural-and-mark-900-years-of-church-history-1-9557262

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