A £100,000 project to restore a pre-Raphaelite mural discovered in a local village church will begin next week.
The artwork, entitled the Ascendancy of Christ, was created by John Roddam Spencer Stanhope in the late 1860s but covered in white emulsion about a century later to save it from damp.
It remained hidden on the east wall of St John the Evangelist Church, Hoylandswaine, for more than 50 years but a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund has ensured it will be restored.
Francis Downes, the appointed conservator of the Roddam painting, visited the village last Wednesday to receive a formal letter of appointment for the joint partnership of Hoylandswaine Arts Group and the parochial church council, and to discuss the erection of scaffolding ahead of Monday’s start date.
Elizabeth Charlesworth, chairman of the arts group, said: “This day has been long in coming. When we look back to 2009 and the chance remark in a church brochure picked up by the expert on the life of Roddam that galvanised us into action, we realised what a long way we had to go. But the day has now arrived.”
Work on uncovering the mural is expected to be carried out with little disruption to services and normal use of the church building being retained.
Elizabeth added: “I visited two churches on the Roddam Trail and when I saw the pulpit panels in Flockton Parish Church, I experienced the same thrill as when I first visited the Tate Britain.
“If ours, when uncovered, is only a fraction of the beauty of these others then it has all been worthwhile.”