The meaning and purpose of carvings high in the roof of St Clement’s Church, Outwell, is having to be reconsidered following a detailed study by conservation experts.
A team from English Heritage visited the church on Wednesday for their first look at the “Outwell Demons” and discovered they are much more detailed than originally thought and do not fit the demon image they had been given.
Some of the carvings, which are 30 feet above the ground, have been badly damaged by death-watch beetles and some infestations are still active.
Hugh Harrison, timber conservation expert, said: “Discovering that the demons are part of the roof timbers means the conservation work will be more difficult. The carvings are very high quality and they capture the character of the subject, rather than being just a stock figure.”
The Bishop of Huntingdon, Rt Revd David Thompson, also went along to have a look at the carvings and said he was glad he braved the climb.
He said: “When the work is complete, we will make this a church that people will want to visit. We will put up lighting and interpretation boards and St Clement’s will become a destination.”
Church architect Richard Waite will now work with English Heritage, which gave a grant for the study and conservation of the carvings, to see how they be conserved and protected for the future.
The Friends of St Clement’s are now working of raising the £60,000 needed to part-match the English Heritage grant. For more information and to become a Friend, visit www.stclementsoutwell.org.uk