The Church of St Mary, Houghton-on-the-Hill, North Pickenham, Swaffham, Norfolk, PE37 8FB

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When first rediscovered it was realised that the wall paintings were going to need extensive conservation works if they were to survive. After nearly a thousand years on the walls they were going to require a good deal of specialist care.

What was actually remarkable was the fact that the wall paintings were in a far better overall condition than might have been expected. Although the historic water leaks, and the many structural changes to the building over the centuries, had caused significant damage to the paintings on the north and south walls, those of the eastern wall were considered to be in generally good condition.

However, there were some problems. The damage to the roof prior to restoration had allowed water to run across the surface of some of the walls, literally washing away much of the pigment. This same moisture had also allowed the build up of green algae across some surfaces, which had to be gently removed by hand.

In addition, moisture at the bottom of the walls was found to be causing the layers of plaster, paint and lime-wash to be coming unstuck from each other; a process known as ‘delamination’.   All these areas required careful consolidation works to stabilise the surfaces and prevent further losses. Once completed all the areas of exposed paintwork were gently cleaned and fully recorded - ensuring they will be in good condition for future generations to enjoy.