The Friends and Volunteers who have been associated with the Chapel for some time or who have a particular area of expertise usually take an interest in one area of the Chapel's activities and maintenance. These vary from specialist cleaning to maintaining the bells to providing guided tours. Bigger projects which require a substantial amount of funding are undertaken. Previous ones have included the restoration of the 8 bells. We are now undertaking the two projects detailed below.
Font Cover Return
The Friends of St Nicholas’ Chapel are launching an appeal to raise money to return the missing font canopy to St Nicholas. It disappeared around 1968 and has resurfaced in a London antiques showroom. Discovering that the 17 foot high structure rightly belonged in the Chapel, Westland Antiques have offered it to the Friends at a special cost price so it can be ‘brought home’ to Lynn.
‘Westland have conserved it well and it would be wonderful to see it back in the chapel,’ said Adrian Parker, chairman of the Friends. ‘However, the antiques firm is moving premises and the offer to us only stands for a short time. The Churches Conservation Trust who own the Chapel support its return, but they have over 350 other churches to care for, and do not have any money to assist us. That’s why we need to ask the public to help us. We have already raised half of the estimated purchase and re-erection costs of £4,500, so please support us to achieve the rest. We are hopeful that soon we could see this unique historic feature back where it belongs in Lynn.’ Any donations should be sent to the ‘Friends of St Nicholas’ Chapel’ St Nicholas Chapel, St Anne’s Street, PE30 1NHby 15th October.
Note to editors: This font canopy was made in 1902 and paid for by E M Beloe, local solicitor and historian, as a copy of the original one made about 1630 but destroyed in the 1840’s. The Vicar in the 1960’s disposed of it, and it next appeared 30 years later in a private museum in Downham Market, from where it was auctioned (and purchased by Westland Antiques Ltd.) in 2010. As Westland are moving, and there has been no other interest, the risk is that the structure will be sold in pieces to make room for other stock. The ‘cost’ price represents their expenditure on buying and conserving it.
Conservation of Reredos:
The reredos on the East wall is the stone arched backdrop to the main altar. It was designed in 1852 by John Brown of Norwich, the Diocesan Surveyor, and built by a local mason, William Browne. In 1904 it was enhanced by the insertion of paintings by Hardman & Co into the niches. They depict Our Lord centrally with the Virgin Mary and St John on either side; St Nicholas is to the left, and Bishop William Turbus (the founder of the Chapel) to the right.
The paintings are suffering from gradual detachment from their backing and consequent cracking, as well as the dirt of some 110 years, and the surrounding stonework is also degrading and losing surface paint.
A conservator of paintings has reported on these panels; experimental research will first be needed to rediscover how the canvases are stuck into the niches. In addition the less noticeable two stencilled panels on either side of the altar are in very poor condition, and complete restoration of all the artwork is estimated at £20,000. However, it is clear that the painted stonework is also losing paint in large flakes, and a stone conservator has been appointed in 2018 to assess why this is happening, and how to conserve and restore it. We anticipate that public fund raising will start in the summer 2018.