Hidden Treasures at St Martin's Church

Pew Cushion volunteers at St Martin's Bilborough
Pew Cushion volunteers

Heritage Grants

Nottingham, East Midlands
The PCC of St Martin of Tours Church, Bilborough
St Martin’s Church won the SPAB John Betjeman Award 2015 for the sensitive repair of the Evelyn Gibbs mural.
A neglected medieval parish church was inspired to create a comfortable and welcoming community hub and share their hidden treasures with a new audience.

The Grade II* listed Church of St Martin of Tours dates from the 14th century but far-reaching changes made in 1972 were not sympathetic to the architecture of the building. The project set out to reverse the damage by restoring the footprint of the medieval church; uncovering the Victorian vaulted chancel ceiling and the east window; and revealing an important pair of 20th century wall paintings.

The wall paintings are one of the key features of the church and were painted by war artist Evelyn Gibbs in 1946. However the local congregation believed that they had been lost during the extensive remodelling in the 1970s. They were rediscovered by chance in 2009 – an event that provided the catalyst for this new project to repair the church and revitalise its function as a comfortable and welcoming community hub.

Although the conservation and redisplay of the wall paintings was the initial driver of the project the need to tackle areas of dampness, address decayed sections of external stonework and create a comfortable internal environment to enable community use was also key. With support from their conservation accredited architect they obtained specialist damp reports and also sought advice from conservators specialising in the investigation, monitoring and control of environmental deterioration in historic buildings and collections and the conservation of wall paintings and polychrome surfaces.

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