Royal News: Secret staircase sealed for 500 years by Elizabeth 1 discovered | royal | News


The discovery was made after large pieces of plaster covering the entrance began to fall from the walls of St Peter’s in Knowstone, north of the regional capital, Exeter. A wooden trap door and stairs were found to lead to a gallery or “rood screen” – where church leaders would have conducted services above worshippers.

In 1561 Queen Elizabeth I declared that all rood screens should be banned because of their connection to Catholicism.

It meant officials at the Grade II listed church blocked off the steps – which have not been seen since until now.

A number of paintings and writings on the wall dating from the 17th and 18th centuries were also revealed.

“It was a really big job to stabilize everything,” Mr Howe said.

As a result of the work on the steps and wall, architect AJ Bunning won the 2021 National Churches Trust King of Prussia Gold Medal for Conservation and Repair.

When the restoration won the award, “we almost fell off our chairs,” Mr Howe said.

“It was wonderful and we are very happy to have done the work.”

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The King of Prussia’s Gold Medal for Architectural Repair and Preservation has been awarded to architects AJ Bunning for their work on St Peter’s Church, Knowstone, North Devon.

The project revolves around the discovery and then the restoration of wall paintings during routine repairs to an area of ​​plasterwork.

As the examination and research progressed, it became clear that the dating of the successive layers of the wall painting schemes was intrinsically linked to the history of the rood screen: from its initial construction to the subsequent removal of the rood screen , then when the screen is removed.


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