St Cuthbert's exterior © Caroe and Partners Architects
St Cuthbert’s exterior © Caroe and Partners Architects

The project focussed on two large stone medieval reredos frameworks in the church, and 440 broken pieces of the sculpture once contained in them. Dismantled and hidden in the walls of the church during the Reformation, they were rediscovered as recently as 1848. Ironically, their long interment preserved much of their medieval paint intact. This unusual survival renders them potentially the most important assemblage of late medieval painted sculpture in any English parish church.

The large collection of fragments had never been catalogued and the original composition of the two reredoses remained unknown. Although their fragile condition means they must, for now, remain in storage, an online catalogue now provides virtual access to the entire collection.

The project also produced:

  • Explanatory text panels in the church
  • Activities including public talks, tours and open days
  • Condition reports on each of the frameworks and a sample of the sculpture
  • Improved storage of the sculpture

This work was undertaken by a team of volunteers, working alongside conservators Humphries and Jones and archaeologist Jerry Sampson.

Ultimately, the intention is to display a proportion of the fragments in the church: a rare and exciting opportunity. By generating new knowledge about this fascinating group of artefacts, this project will provides the essential groundwork for full conservation and exhibition of the collection.

To learn more about the church and its current activities, please visit the church website.