Conservation of Woven Rush Panels

The small unlisted historical chapel in the centre of Whitchurch Road Cemetery was designed by architect George H Birch and built in 1892, the year that the cemetery was opened.  Mounted on the interior walls is a series of 15 beautiful, highly decorative, loom-woven rushwork panels.

Not all of these beautiful Victorian panels are in good condition and over time some of them, especially those on the North wall, have become loose, damaged and worn. As far as we are aware they are very rare and despite wide research we cannot yet find any information about them.  We are continuing our efforts. These panels are splendid and rare survivors and are well worth conserving and protecting.  Several specialists, who have seen the panels, have remarked on how wonderful and intricately woven they are and how they must be preserved for the future as part of our heritage.  

The Friends of Whitchurch Road Cemetery are delighted to have now found an accredited and suitably qualified professional conservator who has agreed to take on the project.  The conservation work will be carried out by Pieta Greaves of Drakon Heritage and Conservation, at their rented space in the conservation studio at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.  The panels will be cleaned and stabilised, any damaged areas will be realigned and the panels will be mounted onto a non-stretchy support material.

The cost of the project is £6,400 and we are delighted that we have now raised the amount we need.  We are extremely grateful for the wonderful support we have received in donations and grants.  Several local people have kindly donated and  generous grants have been received from: Wem Civic Society; The Mid Counties Co-op; Wem Rural Parish Council; Wem Town Council; The Barber Trust.  We have also received a very generous grant from Shropshire Historic Churches Trust.  In addition, we have been awarded a grant from the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers. Our thanks go to all those who have contributed. 

We are hoping that once we have been awarded the required Church Faculty we will be able to make a start on the conservation work.