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Conservation of wooden panel from a Cheshire church

detail of angels praying on the painted wood panel

Parish churches often house unexpected treasures, such as this German wooden panel from a Cheshire church.

carved wooden panel with religious scene before and after cleaning

The panel is a fine example of medieval polychrome (painted) limewood carving. Unfortunately it had become obscured by years of dirt and a thick brown coating. It was also suffering seriously from woodworm damage that was threatening its structural stability. The quality of the painted surface could just be glimpsed beneath the thick coating.

detail of panel showing baby Jesus before conservation

Treatment

Initially the reliefs were treated for woodworm, before any attempt was made to clean and conserve their surface. After the woodworm had been destroyed the reliefs were carefully swab-cleaned under magnification. Once the dark brown obscuring coat was completely removed, the extent of the highly decorative painted and gilded surface could be appreciated.

detail of panel showing baby Jesus after conservation

A protective coating was then added to act as a barrier between the atmosphere and the paint layer. Finally the reliefs were placed in a climate control box, which was securely attached to the church wall to further buffer them against variations in the church environment.