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Page last updated at 11:28 GMT, Monday, 9 August 2010 12:28 UK
Preserving the past in Inglesham
By Mark Jones
BBC Wiltshire

St John the Baptist
Conservation work continues at St John's

It's seen as a hidden gem tucked away in the Wiltshire countryside, and its beauty is being preserved by a team of volunteers.

St John the Baptist at Inglesham, near Swindon, is an ancient Saxon church which is slowly being conserved.

Full-time experts and a team of students are spending the summer working inside the building.

But it's no easy job, in fact it's a painstakingly slow one, as conservators have been working on this for 21 years.

Jane Rutherfoord is one of those in charge of the project for the Churches Conservation Trust. She said: "We are still following the brief I was given 20 years ago to stabilise all the paintings on all the walls, which is to stop them falling on the floor.

"But this is tricky because there are so many paintings superimposed on top of each other, starting with the 13th century and then on right up to the 19th century."

And you can't sacrifice any one layer in favour of another.

Conservation work
Painstaking but rewarding work at St John's

Jane said: "It's a minefield but luckily I have this fantastic team working with me now, that really helps."

The students come from all over the country and this work helps them with their related studies.

Suzanne Grasso is one of those: "It's painstaking work - you can spend an hour removing just a small piece of overlaid lime wash but it's really gratifying when you've done it.

"This is a fabulous church, great to work in. It's one of the reasons I came in to conservation because I love old churches."

Oliver Murrell is also spending much of his time working on top of the ceiling high scaffolding currently occupying St John's: "I was here last year and it's interesting to see how much of a difference we are making.

"Last year seeing the bit of work from start to finish what was a dilapidated section of wall is now looking good. It's nice to see."

Although dust sheets and scaffolding take up much of the church's interior St John the Baptist is still open to visitors and the added bonus is you can see the conservation work being carried out first hand.

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