Lottery windfall to help explore fascinating story of ancient wall paintings

The Lady with the Lute - one of the Elizabethan wall paintings.
The Lady with the Lute - one of the Elizabethan wall paintings.

Volunteers at Thame Museum are celebrating a windfall of almost £30,000 to help develop a collection of ancient wall paintings which were discovered in the town.

The cash has been awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for the project surrounding the unique collection of Elizabethan wall paintings found in a merchant’s house.

The project, run by volunteers Yvonne Maxwell and Lindsey Weimers, aims to raise the profile of the paintings, give the community an opportunity to find out more about their local heritage through workshop and research and provide improved interpretation for visitors.

The funding will help transform the current display into an exciting snapshot view of an Elizabethan merchant and his life and explore the intriguing story behind the paintings.

The Elizabethan Wall Paintings Room will be open to the public from September 19, as the museum celebrates its 10th anniversary, and a number of events are planned around the launch.

The wall paintings are significant to Thame because they reveal more about the lifestyle and status of a merchant in the thriving market town of the time.

David Dodds, chairman of the trustees said: “We are delighted that this important project has received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, without which it would be difficult to proceed. We are a small and relatively new museum, but with determined ambitions to record and articulate the history of our town for the present and future, residents and visitors. The building where the wall paintings were discovered, accidentally by a gas fitter, is adjacent to where Shakespeare once trod and alongside the route which Henry VIII took to Rycote Park. Our town is rich in history and this award will help us to explain it further.

“I pay tribute to the dedication and determination of the project leaders, Lindsey Weimers and Yvonne Maxwell, in progressing this important and exciting project.”

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Dr Kathryn Davies, Historic Buildings Consultant and Chartered Town planner, explains: “Even if their meaning cannot be fully understood, trying to work out exactly what is being communicated in these paintings could be a valuable resource both for scholars nationally of the early modern period and for local people, especially children, because of their visual appeal, for learning about all aspects of life in early modern Thame.”

Thame Museum, situated in the old Magistrates Court, is a volunteer led and run organisation. The day to day management and running of the museum is overseen by a management committee of eight members representing the key museum functions.

There are approximately 30 steward and duty managers who cover various roles in the museum during its opening times four days a week.

The museum runs a range of activities such as temporary exhibitions, a programme of monthly talks, family events, outings and walks, and has links with local schools. Winning the funding this year is particularly significant as 2017 is the 10th anniversary of the opening of Thame Museum.