VISITORS and worshippers can again enjoy a church’s once-forgotten ‘beautiful’ 120-year-old mosaic.
The Tree Of Life coloured tile decoration by pioneering Victorian architect William Butterfield on the wall of the chancel at All Saints’ Church in Uxbridge Road, Harrow Weald, had been hidden since 1957 under layers of aluminium paint applied in an attempt to ‘modernise’ the building’s interior.
William Northover, of Northstar Restoration, based in Pinner Hill Road, Pinner, led the team of conservators who carefully removed the offending covering to reveal the alternating geometric panels and scrolls with a great flourish at the top.
He said: “Peeling away layers of old paint fortunately revealed the mosaics to be in very good order.
“The colours and the intricacy of the patterns on thousands of tiny pieces of mosaic are as stunning as when they were first so skillfully placed.”
The restoration project started after an old sepia photograph turned up that showed this hitherto forgotten mosaic in situ on the eastern wall of the sanctuary.
Funds totalling £14,000 were raised by The Friends of All Saints Church and the wider community to expose the work, which is available to view this weekend as All Saints’ Church throws open its doors to the public as part of the local Open Doors Weekend heritage showcase.
Nick Oulton, a member of the friends group, said: “All Saints’ has now been put back on the map as a church with a unique Butterfield heritage.
“All Saints’ was one of Butterfield’s earliest church projects and helped to launch his career as an innovative, if controversial, architect.
“He returned towards the end of his working life to oversee the extension of the church and the design of the beautiful mosaics.”
The vicar, the Reverend James Mercer, said: “Restoring lost beauty to All Saints’ is a part of our stewardship responsibility. It is fantastic to see something lost and forgotten brought back to vibrant life to be enjoyed and appreciated by the community.”
William Butterfield was a Gothic Revival architect and added the mosaic during an 1890 redesign of the Grade II* Listed building he himself designed.
The restoration team discovered the chancel ceiling features a stenciled Butterfield motif that had similarly been painted over, Mr Mercer said.