CONSERVATION REPORT

Conclusions

This ornate reredos, with documentary evidence suggesting it was designed by C E Kempe or a contemporary of his (G F Bodley or Skipworth) was presented to the church in 1897. Historically and artistically it is of significant importance, and is the most distinguished furnishing in Holy Trinity church. Its future needs to be considered with care, for as time passes this reredos will become more and more important both artistically and historically. It is important to explain to the parishioners the importance of this artefact. The reredos is not the only item from this period in the church, three of the south chapel windows are by C E Kempe.

Structurally the reredos is in good condition. There is minor damage from wood boring insects; and it is possible that some of the delicate elements of the carved reredos may be damaged or broken should close access be provided for conservation and cleaning.

Both reredos and the wooden panelling on the east wall were painted with the same primer - suggesting that they were conceived as a whole. The reredos is similar in colour now as then, the larger structural timbers are darker and duller than originally (especially the gilding which is now gold paint). Painted and gilded surfaces - especially originally painted surfaces - are dirty. This is the result of surface dirt and dust and a discoloured varnish.

The reredos underwent a restoration around 1950. It is possible that at that time the panelling on the east wall was redecorated as shown on the historic photograph from 1964 - a scheme more colourful than the original. In more recent times the panelling on the east wall has been repainted twice - in a plain manner.

Aesthetically it is possible to improve the appearance of the reredos by:-

a) Reducing dirt deposition
Reposition the two radiators situated under the ends of the reredos so that they are away from the reredos.

b) Improving the lighting
Select lights which are more sympathetic to the church interior. In this church, where natural light is not plentiful, artificial lighting is very important.

c) The reredos - inset panels and carved polychromy
The aesthetic appearance of the reredos can be improved through cleaning, which can be taken to one of two levels; these are described in more detail in section 7.1 above. The results from cleaning will be most apparent to the lowest tier of saints, and on the painted and gilded carving within the main tier and the niches for the saints Peter and Paul. It will have less impact on areas of more plainly painted wood which has been overpainted - see d) below.

d) The reredos - polychromed structural timbers
Here, the aesthetic appearance can be improved in one of two ways - either to uncover the original paint, or repaint the overpaint to match the original. The dull red to the structural timbers was originally closer to the bright red background to the lowest tier of saints.

e) The wooden panelling - original decoration
The wooden panelling on the east wall was originally polychromed - predominately in green with some red. This could be reconstructed, forming a richer backdrop to the reredos. The lettering could also be reconstructed.

f) The altar frontal
The appearance of the altar frontal can be improved through cleaning.

It is very important to maintain the good condition of the building fabric of the church; especially that associated with the reredos and east wall in general. Repairs and investigations to the building fabric allied to the reredos and panelling should be commissioned. The condition of the east window needs to be monitored closely to prevent liquid moisture penetrating to the reverse of the reredos.

Recommendations

Commission repairs and investigations to the building fabric associated with the reredos and east wall as identified by the architect in the last quinquennial inspection.

With regard to the conservation and cleaning of the reredos and associated panelling it is recommended that the following be commissioned:-

a) Reducing dirt deposition
Move the radiators away from the reredos.

b) Minor damage from wood boring insects
Locally treat with an insecticide. Monitor the shelf at the base of the reredos for signs of frass.

c) Change the lighting ~ Work Completed
Change the lighting so that it is more sympathetic with the church interior.

d) The reredos - inset panels and carved polychromy
Improve the aesthetic appearance of the reredos by cleaning. A choice of degree is described in section 8.1 above. Close access provided for cleaning may reveal other unrecorded damage or loss to the more delicate elements of the reredos.

e) The reredos - polychromed structural timbers
Determine whether to improve the aesthetic appearance of the structural timbers by removing overpaint to reveal the original, or to repaint the overpaint to match the original.

f) The wooden panelling on the east wall
The wooden panelling on the east wall could be repainted to match the original colours. The lettering could be re-constructed using gold leaf.

g) The altar frontal
Clean the altar frontal.

h) The programme of work undertaken should be recorded in an illustrated report
This is important as it provides a reference point for future generations.

Ensure that the condition of the building fabric is regularly inspected and maintained.

Acknowledgements:

The above conclusions and recommendations are taken from the Detailed Condition Report, February 2009, by Peter Martindale (Peter Martindale Conservation Ltd.), an Accredited Member of the Institute of Conservation. Registered Company number 474097 (England and Wales)