Churches, monasteries and cathedrals are some of the oldest buildings in the United Kingdom, as such they are faced with the challenge of caring for artworks and items which are important both historically and spiritually. At Fine Art Restoration Company we offer a range of church artwork conservation services to assist ecclesiastical buildings and their collections for ongoing preservation.

Cross Tear Church Painting AngelAbove: a painting from a church which had a large tear, this was seamlessly restored following a varnish removal to reveal the bright original colours

Whilst restoration may be considered when an artwork or item is damaged, our professional conservators can also offer advice and in-depth assessments to help prevent deterioration before it begins. 

Our range of services cover full restoration and professional assessments, as well as storage, transport and art handling where required. Our team is also on hand to respond quickly to damage following accidental damage or disasters such as a flood, leak, or fire.

Church Pews Flood Damage TextilesAbove: many of the textiles from St. Peters Church were able to be fully restored by our textile conservator, including those featured here

Traditional, modern and contemporary pieces can all be considered for restoration. We have an experienced team who deal with a wide range of materials, including:

We also offer conservation for unusual objects, such as mixed media artworks and unique installations. 

Above: our studio space where oil paintings and frames can be restored alongside each other 

Avoiding damages: environmental assessments and advice

As well as restoration, our conservators can also visit your collection on location and help you to understand any dangers which artwork and specialist items may be facing. Commonly, churches and historic buildings may have difficulty in maintaining temperature and humidity control, as well as lighting. Knowing how these environmental fluctuations can affect your collection will help in their maintenance and safe display. 

Oil On Panel SolventAbove: wooden panels are especially susceptible to changes in the environment, leading to cracks, warping and breakages in the wood  

Common damages found in church artworks and items include:

  • Warping and cracking wood due to fluctuation in temperatures and humidity, this can affect paintings on panel, as well as sculptures, murals and furniture
  • Discolouration of paintings and sculptures due to historic varnishes and smoke damage
  • Burns and soot damage to artwork from candles
  • Fading of sensitive works on paper or textiles due to sunlight exposure
  • Foxing or mould occurrences on paper and other items due to lack of humidity control
  • Accidental damage following maintenance work or social gatherings, this is commonly a torn or dented canvas, a broken sculpture, or stained textile piece
  • Disasters following an escape of water from the roof or windows, as well as more extreme damage to buildings located on a floodplain

You can read a case study involving an important oil painting from St Mary’s Church in Wreay, Cumbria here. Our team performed several treatments on his painting and helped to bring back original details which were important to its history. 

Taking Down From Display WreayAbove: our conservators removal a portrait for restoration from St Mary’s Church in Cumbria, following the on-site assessment of the artwork

Our conservators also offer in-depth condition reporting for an artwork or full collection. This helps you to understand the issues they may be facing, as well as a look into the history and any alterations which may have been made over time. Our condition reports use scientific photography, pigment analysis and cross section assessments to obtain the era in which the artwork was created and in some cases reveal specific details. If required, a restoration treatment plan can be put in place, in some cases allowing hidden features to be returned and signatures to be unveiled.

Woldingham SchoolAbove: our restoration of an important Mater Admirabilis painting from a Catholic school in Surrey following deterioration to the paint layer

Disaster response with a conservation approach

Whilst some removal and response companies may not be well-versed in the handling of antiques or historic objects, our team is qualified with museum standards when it comes to looking after precious items following a disaster. 

Plaster Relief Church Art Flood DamageAbove: this plaster artwork was restored following flood damage by our team, including the removal of contamination and the stabilisation of the cracked surface

You can read more about our response to a flood at St. Peters Church in Monmouth here, which involved the restoration of textiles, wooden items, watercolours, and sculptures. 

Extender Table RestorationAbove: furniture and wooden items can also be restored in our studio using traditional techniques and finishes 

Our multi-faceted approach to conservation means that all items can be restored simultaneously by their respective professionals, allowing the entire collection to be swiftly saved from further deterioration. We also provide treatment to damp and mould affected artworks and items to stop the spread and safely remove moisture and contaminants without disturbing the original materials.

Crucifixion Scene RestorationAbove: before and after the restoration of a painting which was discoloured by age and a smoke filled environment

How can we help with your church artwork conservation?

If you have any questions related to the restoration process behind any artworks or specialist items, or would like to discuss the ways in which we can collaborate with you, please get in touch.

To make contact please email us via [email protected] or call 0207 112 7576

Virgin Mary Painting Before AfterAbove: an oil painting restoration completed by our conservators in our studio
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