The Venables Project:
This project seeks to learn, understand and give accessibility to two rare and damaged 17th Century painted wooden panels. These once belonged to the Venables family, the Barons of Kinderton. The screens are erected on Victorian panelling, high up in a tower of St Michael and All Angels church. They consist of dedications to Thomas Venables by his son Peter and the marriages they have secured to prominent families since the 14th Century.
In order to achieve the ultimate aim of conserving and moving the screens, we need to produce a plan. Expert input is needed to assess the current condition of the screens. What conservation measures need to take place and what are the options on how the screens should be taken down from their current location and reinstalled within the church. There are vital elements of this project that have to be done by an expert, however, to provide a fuller understanding of these screens and how we can learn from them, we will need the input of volunteers. Delivery of this project plan will be a combined effort.
Volunteer opportunities exist to work alongside the conservator to learn how the process works from start to finish, taking notes and using photography to document the projects progression. This information will then be collated and made into a presentation for the local community and the photographs will be posted online. This means that the information learnt are transferred out to the wider population and new skills can be gained, this will also include setting up a web-page/blog or Facebook page. There would also be opportunities for people to learn skills in research, what can we find out about the marriage shields painted on the screen? How could a research project be established? What other churches in our region have painted screens and how can we learn from their experiences? Do we have any Venables family connections with other churches that can be explored, sharing information.
This project about saving our unique Venables Screens and moving them from a tower with little public access to the main body of the church so they can be seen. Public concern over the future of the Venables screens has resulted in this application for a clear plan and future strategy for their continued survival. This project created by experts and local people, hopes to produce a conservation plan with options to move and re-install, with costings. Within this we will have explored how learning and new skills can be developed to move forward with a full and accessible conservation project. We would also have achieved the aim of engaging new people and the wider public in understanding the importance of the screens. Should the final conservation work go ahead, we will need more volunteer input and establish new partnerships and research avenues to explore the families depicted.