News

Last chance to donate old £1 coins

9 October 2017

THERE are just days to go until those old £1 coins have to be spent – or can be donated to Stratford’s Guild Chapel and turned into a real lasting legacy.

The Chapel, home to some of the rarest surviving medieval wall paintings in all of Europe, launched its Pounds for Panels fundraising campaign earlier this year, collecting donations of the old £1 coin to support an exciting conservation project.

To date, more than £2,000 has been raised through donations – this week seeing the final push to reach the target of £3,000 or more.

The campaign – which received the backing of the Royal Mint and HM Treasury – comes to an end on Sunday (October 15th) – the date when the old £1 coin goes out of circulation.

All money raised via Pounds for Panels will fund further exciting conservation work within the Chapel. The hope is to shed new light on paintings hidden for hundreds of years – re-discovering medieval art which was covered up in the 16th Century on orders given to John Shakespeare, father of the playwright.

“The hope is that we will raise enough money to open up part of a painting currently covered, revealing it for the first time in 500 years,” Pippa Brook, Volunteer Coordinator at the Guild Chapel said.

“To do that we need to raise between £3,000 and £5,000 – because once the painting is revealed, it needs to be protected and conserved.”

The painting is called the Life of Adam and it runs down the south wall of the nave. Currently covered by wooden panelling, it was applied in the late 15th Century and then limewashed over less than 100 years later during the English Reformation; an order given by Queen Elizabeth I and acted on in Stratford-upon-Avon by John Shakespeare, who was effectively the town mayor at the time.

The Life of Adam was not the only painting limewashed, but while many others were well-documented when they were re-discovered, it has still never been properly documented or studied.

In fact it was thought very little of the painting had survived, until conservators working in the Chapel last year removed a section of the panelling covering the Life of Adam – to find a huge amount of detail preserved underneath.

They conserved what they found, revealing figures, one of them playing a ‘cornemuse’ – a medieval instrument similar to a bagpipe.

“That discovery was hugely exciting,” Pippa added.

“And we simply don’t know at this stage what other secrets are hidden.

“We’ve raised a brilliant amount through Pounds to Panels so far – but we still need more people to donate their old £1 coins to reach our target in this final week. Your donation will support a real lasting legacy here – and the more we can raise, the more we can do.”

To support Pounds for Panels, simply drop your £1 coins into the collection boxes at the Guild Chapel, or see a volunteer guide where possible.

The Chapel is open daily, free to all visitors. Paintings including the incredible Allegory of Death and the large, ornate scene of the ‘Doom’ or Judgement Day, both the subjects of conservation work last year, can be viewed and enjoyed by all.

For more information go to www.guildchapel.org.uk or call 01789 207117.

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