Couple Renovating Their Kitchen Discovers 400-Year-Old Paintings Hidden Underneath

17th-Century Mural Discovered Under Kitchen Panels in North of England

A life-sized image of the mural from Historic England. (Photo: Luke Budworth)

In the north of England, a young couple and their dog moved out of their flat in December 2022 to allow workers to come in and remodel their kitchen. Luke Budworth, 29, and Hazel Mooney, 26, were then surprised by a call from one of the workmen asking about a painting behind the cabinets. They had not previously known of its existence. It turns out, this wasn’t just any ordinary painting and the couple would be in for a big surprise.

After the initial discovery, the couple returned home. The workers had finished their job, and the new cabinets now covered the mural, but Budworth suspected the mural might wrap around the wall in the open floor-plan apartment. The couple removed some paneling to find that was correct. The mural continued along the top of the wall. “It was painted the same as the rest of the wall and I knew it was hollow,” Budworth said to CNN. “I always thought it was probably just covering some pipes.”

The painting depicts Biblical scenes and has scrolling text beneath. It measures about 9 feet by 4 feet, cut off by the ceiling. Experts from Historic England were called to investigate. They photographed and examined the mural, realizing it dated to sometime between 1635 and 1700—meaning it’s almost 400 years old. On the prior date, Francis Quarles published a book entitled Emblems. Scenes from this work are depicted in the painting. By 1700, however, this style of frieze was out of fashion. The Grade II listed Georgian building in York's historic Micklegate neighborhood was constructed in 1747. This strange timeline suggests that the wall bearing the work was removed from another building and then the present home was build around it.

Although originally discovered in 1998, the painting had been paneled over. Its rediscovery is important, according to a statement by Historic England to CNN: “They raise various questions about the ages of the buildings in this row of historic homes and the history of Micklegate itself. Finds like this tell us that our historic homes have many secrets and we've been pleased to work with this homeowner on looking after these murals for the future.”

While the young people who own the flat are unsure of their ability to pay for the conservation of the mural, Budworth noted, “If we could find some sort of funding to help conserve it I would be willing to go to the extent of taking the [kitchen] cupboards off the wall but unfortunately I don't see that happening. The other one though will be preserved as best we can.”

A young couple having their kitchen redone in York in the North of England discovered a 400-year-old mural beneath paneling.

17th-Century Mural Discovered Under Kitchen Panels in North of England

The murals show scenes from a 1635 book called “Emblems,” by Francis Quarles. (Photo: Luke Budworth)

The friezes depict scenes from a 17th-century work entitled “Emblem” by poet Francis Quarles.

17th-Century Mural Discovered Under Kitchen Panels in North of England

The wall bearing the murals pre-date the building itself. (Photo: Luke Budworth)

h/t: [CNN]

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Madeleine Muzdakis

Madeleine Muzdakis is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and a historian of early modern Britain & the Atlantic world. She holds a BA in History and Mathematics from Brown University and an MA in European & Russian Studies from Yale University. Madeleine has worked in archives and museums for years with a particular focus on photography and arts education. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, film photography, and studying law while cuddling with her cat Georgia.
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