Call to save nude Tudor murals on old brothel site

A naked woman depicted on the mural

A naked woman depicted on the mural

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There are calls to protect Tudor murals of naked women above the vacant Jilly Sanders shop as renovation work takes place.

The building in West Street, Buckingham, will soon change hands with strong rumours that a coffee shop will be opened there.

But as work to turn the upstairs store room into accommodation takes place, paintings have been unveiled to show Tudor art, when the building is believed to have been used as a brothel.

Professor John Clarke, from the University of Buckingham, studied the paintings 20 years ago when it was mesnswear shop, Howkins.

“Some of the paintings are very explicit,” said Professor Clarke. “There’s an indication it was a brothel around the Elizabethan times in the 1570s and 1580s.

“I went with Mr Howkins and he showed me them.

“There are lots of naked people in them and there are several explicit images.”

Professor Clarke said Buckingham had a lot of ‘disreputable establishments’ in the 16th Century and artwork is one way of validating that.

As important artefacts which paint the town’s history, he is keen to see the murals preserved.

He said: “I hope they don’t lose the frescos. But Buckingham has a bad track record on that.

“The Natwest building was completely demolished in the 1960s.

“It was quite grand in there, with carved ceilings but it was completely destroyed. They need to make sure that sort of thing doesn’t happen again.

“The Jilly Sanders building is quite an interesting place really.

“The house was built ‘out a bit’ from the original line of houses, in the aftermath of the Buckingham Fire, around 1730.

“There’s even a footprint from that time where a builder has stepped into the lead.”

Buckingham Town Councillor Mike Smith thinks urgent action needs to be taken to protect the murals.

He said: “They’re part of Buckingham’s rich heritage.

“In my view, there is an urgent case for getting the Historic Buildings Officer and/or Historic England involved with this.”

A spokesman for AVDC said the markings have been identified and reported.

There are restrictions in place to ensure the murals are preserved and to stop builders from causing any damage as renovation work takes place.