“What lies beneath?” – the dilemmas raised by wall paintings

“To say that the events that lead to this Judgment are unfortunate is an understatement. The Church of St Peter and St Paul, Pettistree dates from the 14th/15th Centuries and is a pretty grade II* listed building. The Petitioners clearly love the building and their bewilderment and frustration at what has happened to it are palpable. They are to be commended for their tenacity and thoughtfulness,” Gau Ch.

Re St. Peter and St. Paul Pettistree [2023] ECC SEI 3 

Earlier judgments

In 2014, a faculty was granted to authorize the redecoration of the interior of St. Peter and St. Paul Pettistree using four coats of limewash. However, removal of the old emulsion revealed that the walls were in a poor condition, appearing “patchy”, and “deep green” in various area. Consequently, the inspecting architect recommended Zinsser Grade 1 paint (ZS) for the redecoration. He obtained the PCC’s permission (but not the court’s) to use ZS paint, and instructed the contractors to use it instead of limewash, which they did with reluctance.

The paint proved to be unsuitable for this application. It was impermeable, and the migration of salts from the walls to the paint layer caused it to expand and flake within one month of application. In 2017, the Chancellor granted a restoration order which required the paint to be removed and the walls repainted with limewash or an alternative paint approved as an amendment to the original faculty, Re St Peter & St Paul Pettistree [2017] ECC SEI, Etherington Ch., (“the restoration order”). He also directed that the architect should meet the cost of the remedial work. [See Deliberate breach of faculty conditions (6 February 2018). Continue reading