Christ Church, Erith

Interior wall decoration (early 20th century), Christ Church, Erith

Described by Pevsner as “duskily rich”, the interior decoration is the most significant decorative feature of this 19th century Grade II* church. The majority of the decoration was undertaken by the large workshop of Ward and Hughes, although the east end of the chancel (including the triptych, signed and dated 1904) was by Alfred. O. Hemming.

Much of the oil based decoration was applied over a thin preparatory layer on brickwork, using stencils and pouncing techniques and incorporating marouflage canvases for the figurative work. Prior to cleaning trials, scientific investigation revealed that the surface of the decoration was covered by what is considered to be an original thin resin coating.

The main aims of the treatment were to stabilise localised areas of severely disrupted paint caused by previous water infiltration (probably combined with condensation), and reduce the accumulation of surface dirt which severely blighted the general appearance of the decoration.

During a later, separate contract the triptych was treated; the bulk of this treatment was cleaning.

In pictures

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The Chancel Erupting paint During cleaning The Triptych