Parish of Exning with Landwade


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This page has the Conservator's description and comments on the Rolls of Honour at the back of St Martin's Church in Exning

Two illuminated Rolls of Honour were re-discovered in St.Martinís Church, Exning in 2010. The Rolls of Honour list all the men from Exning who fought in World War 1, 1914-18.  



Conservatorís comments


These two manuscripts are painted in thick gouache and watercolour with gold leaf highlights (stippled so that they reflect the light), with text in ink with gouache capitals. The style is similar to that of medieval manuscript illumination, made popular at the end of the nineteenth century by William Morris and the Arts and Crafts movement. It is beautifully done, especially as three years separate the two documents. 
Both are on paper, although the earlier document is painted onto very high quality handmade laid paper, whilst the later is on slightly thinner and poorer quality mould made paper. This reflects the paper rationing that came into force in 1917, a result of the unrestricted U boat warfare introduced that year. The 1914 paper was attached by its edges to a thin backing board made from cotton waste, whilst the 1917 paper is glued to a thicker board made from wood pulp. The differences are again partly explained by wartime rationing, but also by the fact that the thicker,  higher grade paper did not require lining or supporting. 

The oak frames were damaged, dirty and badly worn, but essentially sound. Both frames contain small wooden slips, crudely carved and washed with gold paint - used to hold the backed paper in place and away from the glass. These were made from a soft wood, and have been ruined by mould, mildew and insect damage. Unfortunately they could not be used again.  Likewise the poor quality glazing, which was stained with mould, was also unusable. 

The backing boards could not be reused but the text written upon them is as follows:-  

LEFT: This Role of Honour was closed on November 14th 1914 since that date others have joined the forces. This was presented and hung up in Exning Church Xmas 1914 by George Townsend.  

RIGHTThis Role of Honour was closed on July31st 1917 and was presented and hung up in Exning Church Aug 4th 1917 by George Townsend. 

Before restoration both Rolls of Honour were covered with mould in their central sections. This has been removed, although it has left staining. As the mould came through from the back, the 1917 item was given some protection by its thick backing board and looks the better of the two. The earlier item suffered much greater damage and literally fell off its thin backing board, as the mould had destroyed all traces of glue, however, both paintings are vastly improved by surface cleaning, and although stained they remain beautiful works of art. 

ďThe more I have looked at these items, and thought about them, the more I realise how fortunate the Parish is to own such beautiful and important historical documents. A PhD thesis could be based on the information that they supply, and they will provide vital evidence for family and local historians alikeĒ. 

Preservation Solutions CB21 4TR


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