Over the past few months, the conservation team have been working on a large number of objects for a major re display project, Stories of Lynn, at Kings Lynn Town Hall. Amongst the many civic related objects, is an incredible piece of architectural carving from the 15th century house of the mayor of Lynn, Walter Coney. The house, since demolished, was located at No. 1 High Street on the east corner of Saturday Market Place. It was an ornately-decorated half-timbered house, and an oak carved sill, is possibly the only surviving fragment. Depicted on the sill are the Arms of Lynn on a shield, flanked by a pair of supporting angels, and another pair of demi-angels to the sides, carrying shields emblazoned with St George’s flag.
The sill has been identified from the window of the first floor of the house, on the left of the drawing
This important survivor of medieval architectural carving, almost 2 meters in length and weighing 97kg, was discovered in a very fragile condition, having suffered from much physical damage and microbiological attack. Large areas of the timber from the top section are missing and the structure had become soft and friable from wood rot. The thick paint layers were fragmentary and lifting from the surface of the wood in many areas. In addition, layers of dirt and dust had accumulated on the surface, obscuring much of the detail of the carving.
Detail of the Arms of Lynn on the sill
Paint analysis showed up to 30 layers of paint had been applied over the centuries, this image shows just a few of them under magnification. (Analysis & image courtesy of C. Hassall)
Paint analysis showed that the earliest paint layer had been a cream or stone coloured oil paint, but no polychrome decoration was found. It is possible that the carving was originally unpainted when first installed on the house.
After careful and extensive cleaning, consolidation of the damaged areas of wood, and securing of all the loose and lifting paint layers, the sill is now ready for display in its new home at the Town Hall. The displays will be open towards the end of March.
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