You Never Know What You Might Find! Restorers Uncover Elizabethan Era Tudor Murals Under Plaster

A medieval manor home in Yorkshire, England revealed a group of “Tudor” wall paintings found underneath the plaster in one of the bedrooms. The artwork is said to date back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. This means they could be as old as the late 1500s into the early 1600s. Essentially, they are 16th century paintings. The manor where the hidden paintings were found is named Calverley Old Hall. They are “the discovery of a lifetime,” says Anna Keay, Director of the U.K.’s Landmark Trust.

Detail of Elizabethan Era Tudor Wall Paintings at Calverley Old Hall, Yorkshire, England | padstyle.com
Detail of Elizabethan Era Tudor Wall Paintings at Calverley Old Hall, Yorkshire, England. Photo by Tom Burrows/Landmark Trust.

“I haven’t seen, anywhere else, such carefully planned grotesque work,” added Landmark Trust Historian, Caroline Stanford. By “grotesque” work, Stanford was referring to a term regarding a style of art originating from Roman Emperor Nero’s Golden Villa. The story goes, these intricate patterns and details came into style after a young man tragically fell into the areas buried chambers during the 15th century.

Tudor Murals Found in Calverley Old Hall, Yorkshire, England. | padstyle.com
Tudor Murals Found in Calverley Old Hall, Yorkshire, England. Photo by John Miller/Landmark Trust.

Historians find it remarkable to find a whole painted room in Elizabethan style in practically mint condition. It is unusual and alluring to both art buffs and history enthusiasts alike.

The new style of exaggerated grotesque artwork grew in popularity, reaching areas all around Europe, including Italy and Germany. Eventually, making its way to England as well. These murals recently found at the Calverley Old Hall in Yorkshire provides more proof of this style spreading across Europe. Aside from the historical significance, the Yorkshire murals as artwork are fascinating. Some of the symbols and imagery featured throughout them include mythical creatures, vines, griffins, birds of prey (some with teeth!), Tudor roses, pomegranates and the emblem of Catherine of Aragon in a 4 tone color palette of black, white, yellow and red.

Restorers Uncover Elizabethan Era Tudor Murals at Calverley Old Hall, Yorkshire, England | padstyle.com
Restorers Uncover Elizabethan Era Tudor Murals at Calverley Old Hall, Yorkshire England. Photo by Simon Hogben/Landmark Trust.

The room where the murals were uncovered was painted in a peach hue during the 1970s. There were “color stains” on some of the exposed wood in the room when recent restorers came to the manor. It was believed to be dirt or mold, however, using their knowledge and intuition, they decided to dig deeper. As they peeled back the paint and plaster, the Tudor wall paintings began to reveal themselves. This particular discovery is grand because restorers have often found tiny remnants of decorative painting or hidden paneling, but rarely have they uncovered entire, fully intact, and well-preserved murals from an era as far back as the 16th century. Especially, during the “Age of Reformation and the Virgin Queen,” says Keay.

Of course, Landmark trust is determined to conserve the paintings in their full glory. They are in the process of raising over $125k to do this. Preserving these murals for viewing, as well as, opening up the 12th century home to the public. Their two main goals will bring forth the rich history and art of Yorkshire, England to the rest of the world.

So for those of us who love a great mystery and an unveiling of a period from long ago, next time you plan on restorations for your home with “old bones,” go over a quick history lesson and take your time peeling back the paint to discover some amazing truths about its origins! The Virgin Queen might say, “Hey Buddy! Uncover me before you lay on top of me!