Somerset

Mural of King Henry VIII uncovered in Somerset

  • 28 January 2011
  • From the section Somerset

A couple renovating their home have uncovered a 500-year-old mural of King Henry VIII on one of its walls.

The house in Milverton, Somerset, was once home to Thomas Cranmer, Arch Deacon of Taunton in the 16th Century.

Angie Powell said: "When we saw the eyes appear out of the plaster it was a real moment."

Michael Liversidge, of Bristol University, said the discovery was "enormously significant, stunningly exciting and of national importance".

But the artist who created the 20ft-high painting of the King on his throne in about 1530 is a mystery.

Expression of loyalty

The couple brought in specialists to remove layers of ancient plaster and mortar from the mural

Mrs Powell and husband Rhodri have lived at the house, once used as the summer palace for the Arch Deacons of Taunton, for about three years.

Mr Liversidge, from the university's history of art department, said the painting would have been an expression of their loyalty to the king.

Mrs Powell, a children's author, said they discovered the mural while redecorating.

They had been removing wooden panels from the wall with a view to painting it.

"It is a presence and you do feel there's just something there behind you looking over your shoulder," she said.

"When people come in, he grabs the attention."

Specialists were brought in to remove layers of ancient plaster and mortar which were hiding the mural, before it was cleaned and holes filled in behind the crumbling facade.

Conservator Ann Ballatyne said: "This is quite special. I've not seen anything like it and I've been working on wall paintings since 1966.

"I've not seen anything as magnificent as this."

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