A HIDDEN chamber of wall paintings dating back to the 16th century has been uncovered in a ‘once in a lifetime’ discovery at a medieval manor house.

The wall paintings were found on the walls of Calverley Old Hall by accident during some preparatory ‘opening up’ at the site.

The hall is going through a major restoration project, with a £94,000 appeal launched to make sure the paintings can be preserved as part of the project. The appeal has been set up by the Landmark Trust, which bought the building in 1981 and run part of it as a holiday let.

Historians were removing the small areas of plaster around the Woodhall Road building to see whether the main joints of the great timber frame were still safe when they found the wall paintings.

The paintings were found in the upper chamber of the ‘Parlour block’, which Dr Anna Keay, who worked on the project, described as an ‘unremarkable looking room with plain walls painted peach colour sometime in the 1970s and a small 1930s fireplace’.

After finding ‘reddish, greenish and blackish stains’ on the oak on an exposed area of timber in the room, the team contacted conservators at Lincoln Conservation to look at the site.

The Lincoln conservation team found wall paintings dating back to the Tudor period, which Dr Keay says left her team speechless.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: The exposed wall painting discovered at Calverley Old HallThe exposed wall painting discovered at Calverley Old Hall

The designs on the paintings included Tudor roses and pomegranates; which were the emblem of Catherine of Aragon, the first wife of King Henry VIII, and beasts baring their teeth.

The Lincoln team returned to Calverley Old Hall for a two-day search and made more discoveries.

Dr Keay said: “When I walked up the stairs into the room I was simply overcome.

“The plaster had gone and there on all three walls before me was a revelation. Floor to ceiling, wall to wall, a complete, highly decorated Tudor chamber, stripped with black and red and white and ochre.

“Mythical creatures and twining vines, classical columns and roaring griffins.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:  A Lincoln Conservation specialist works on the wall A Lincoln Conservation specialist works on the wall

“Wall paintings were prized in grand Tudor houses, and from time-to-time patches of them are revealed. But never in my own 27 years of working in historic buildings have I ever witnessed a discovery like this.

“But an entire painted chamber absolutely lost to memory, a time machine to the age of the Reformation and the Virgin Queen, never.”

In the Old Hall’s appeal video, historian Caroline Stanford said: “This is far and away one of the most exciting discoveries we have found in Landmark’s work.”