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Fire damaged church in Sheering uncovers medieval art
Some of the medieval wall paintings discovered at St Mary's Church in Sheering
The paintings were discovered when the walls were scrubbed down

Work to repair a church in Sheering that was badly damaged by fire has unearthed rare medieval wall paintings.

St Mary's Church was damaged by the blaze in January 2010 but only recently thousands of pounds worth of restoration work on its interior began.

As the soot-covered walls were scrubbed down, plaster flaked away to reveal what is believed to be original 14th century decor in the chancel.

The church is expected to reopen once again in summer 2011.

"We found some red lines behind the plaster that had been exposed when we cleaned the soot and stuff off the surface of the walls," said Elsie Baker, secretary to the PCC of the church.

"When we looked further there were some horizontal lines and in other places in the chancel there are also some similar vertical lines, which look like a sort of masonry, which is apparently a technique they used.

"Somebody from the diocese has had a good look and they're pretty confident they're medieval and part of the original decoration when the church was built in the 14th century.

Some of the damage after the fire at Sheering church
Thousands of pounds of damage were caused by January's fire

"We're waiting for expert advice on a decision onto what to do next."

Aside from the unexpected find, it promises to be a special few months for the church.

The restoration of its interior is costing thousands of pounds, most of which has been raised by the local community.

The Reverend Stewart Gibbs said despite the devastating events of January, it had brought the community together.

"In a small village like this the church is by far the oldest and most distinctive building in the community and people see it as their church, whether they come regularly or not it's brilliant to get people involved," he said.

"We're really thankful for what's been achieved."

He added: "I became the rector here only four months after the fire, so I've never seen the church in it's full glory.

"So hopefully it will be in even better glory when we get back in and look forward to taking the services there and having a full church and being used by the community and where everyone can worship God together."

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