ANCIENT wall paintings dating back hundreds of years have been rejuvenated and put back up in a church following a lengthy restoration project.

The two murals at Hope Parish Church, in the village of Hope, were first discovered beneath crumbling plaster during an internal revamp back in 1953 at the Grade I listed building.

But the wall paintings date back to sometime after the English Reformation – when the Church of England broke away from the Roman Catholic Church in the 16th Century.

An official report by a specialist wall painting conservator, Dr Andrea Kirkham, more accurately dates the hidden decorations as 17th Century paintings from around the year 1630.

But due to their age, the murals were in an extremely poor condition with the text being deemed unreadable.

However, after a £12,000 project headed by the Friends of Hope Church to restore and conserve the fragments so they can be appreciated by future generations, both paintings have been made clearer and successfully translated.

The mural on the east side of the church, closer to the altar at the front, is believed to be from Proverbs 15:3, saying: “The eyes of the Lord are in every place, beholding the evil and the good saith Solomon.”

The second wall painting, found on the opposite west side of the church, has been translated to be from the First book of Peter, 2:1-2.

It reads: “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, as newborn babies desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby.”

Following the conclusion of the project, with the paintings now on display at Hope Parish Church, Councillor David Healey said: “I’d like to compliment the Friends of Hope Church for all of their hard work to preserve these incredible pieces of history.

“These post-reformation texts are quite rare to find in Wales. The preservation of the texts isn’t usually the first thing to be done when they’re found, but the work done on these is fantastic.

“These wall paintings are a significant archaeological discovery and it further demonstrates that Hope Parish Church is an important historical building.

“It is the jewel in the crown as far as Hope is concerned, and I hope that this puts the village of Hope on the map yet again.”

In an article for the next edition of the Journal of British Archaeology, Dr Cyllene Griffiths, a director at the Council for British Archaeology in Wales, said: “As archaeologists, we recognise the significance of this conservation project.

“The Council for British Archaeology was pleased to support the opportunity to conserve these fascinating and rare (in Wales) examples and to better present them to the public.

“We can perhaps imagine the richness of a crowded interior with a now mostly literate population reading the teachings on the walls.

“Imagining their reactions and sentiments gives us a unique insight into the post-reformation world and a strong sense of connection to its society.”

The Friends of Hope Parish Church was set up in 2013 to ensure that the building and its treasures remain conserved.

Since their establishment, the Friends of Hope Church have also preserved the head of a Celtic Cross as well as conserve the John Trevor memorial and monument, the George III memorial, a painted coat of arms and an early 18th Century benefaction board.

A guided and explained tour of the church and all of its historical artefacts – including the newly revamped clock tower - is taking place on Saturday, September 14.

The ‘Welcome Afternoon’ will take place between 2pm and 4pm with hot drinks available for guests.