Saturday, March 2, 2024

Kitchen renovation reveals 400-year-old friezes in York flat

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A man renovating his kitchen has found a 400-year-old wall painting of “national significance” in his York flat.

Parts of the friezes, dating back to about 1660, were found by kitchen fitters in Luke Budworth’s flat on Micklegate in York city centre last year and have since been fully uncovered.

The paintings are thought to be older than the buildings at either side of the wall and are based on scenes from the 1635 book Emblems written by the poet Francis Quarles.

Budworth, a medical researcher at the University of Leeds, said it was “bonkers” to think the painting was there before historical events such as the Great Fire of London [in 1666].

He told the SWNS news agency: “The first people to originally find it were the kitchen fitters who saw it under my kitchen cupboard.

“When they found it, I knew there was a parallel piece of wood on the other side of the chimney that could have the same thing. I never thought anything of it before, I thought they were pipes behind it.

The artwork in Luke Budworth’s flat dates back to about 1660. Photograph: Luke Budworth/SWNS

‘‘We always knew there was an odd piece of the wall but just thought the flat was really wonky as it’s been a million different things over the years. I got really excited, grabbed my tools and started ripping it off.

“At first I thought it was old Victorian wallpaper, but soon I could see it was actually drawn on to the wall of the building next door – so it’s older than this building itself.

He added: “It’s bonkers to think that it was here before things like the Great Fire of London and things like that.”

Budworth moved to York from Warrington, partly because of the city’s history, he said. However, while he said it was “amazing” to have the paintings in his home, he also described them as a burden because there is no funding available to preserve them.

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He has received help from Historic England to cover them up again to help prevent damage.

He added: “We’ve printed off a high-res version of them and put the replica on top to cover them up.

“Hopefully we can get the word out and see if any societies or PhD students want to do some experimental conservation projects. I also hope that this inspires other people on Micklegate to start looking at their own walls suspiciously.”

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