Monastery's hidden secret finally revealed
A giant centuries old painting which remained hidden from view for decades will greet guests at a new hotel.
The park scene - which measures two metres tall and six metres wide - was painted on the wall at the old monastery in Whittlesey 450 years ago, but was hidden from view when wooden panels were placed over it more than a century ago.
But now developers are turning the monastery into a hotel, and the secret painting was uncovered.
Bosses at the new hotel are now planning on making the wall a feature in one of the suites when it opens at the end of the year.
Gareth Wheeler, who is part of the team working on the hotel, said: “The builders were taking out an old stud wall in one of the rooms.
“When they took that out, they found the old wood panelling, which we think had been there since Victorian times.
“As the wood panels were removed, the picture became visible - and it took over the entire wall.
“We think it was painted around 1645-1650.
“We had only been working on the hotel for a month. It was a complete shock when we found it.
“We are told it is the best of its type in the country.”
Conservation experts have now been to the building site to ensure the painting remains in a good condition, and to help preserve it for the future.
Gareth, who is working with partner Simon Black on the project, said: “We are planning on putting a glass case round the painting, and making it a feature in the suite.
“It is very delicate, and we are having to be extra careful with what we do. But we do want it to be on show.
“Every couple of years we are going to have to get conservation experts in to have a look at it, and make sure it is in good condition.
The building has been an office block and even a recording studio in the past, but no-one seemed to know the painting existed. And no-one knows why it was covered up either.
“We know it is an old building - dating back to before the 1600s - but no one knew about the priceless painting inside.
“It is in one of the smallest suites in the hotel, but we think it will be very attractive to visitors.
“The suites will include more original features, including beams.
“After we discovered it, we have had to re-look at the design of the room, and what furniture we are putting in.
“We have a lot of work to do, so we are hoping there are no more surprises we have yet to discover.”
The hotel will be called ‘The Monastery,’ with opening planned for the end of December.
A vegetarian and vegan deli, to be called ‘the Refectory’ will also open on the site in the autumn.