Hoxton church appeals for funds to restore its interior to its former glory

Murals by E.W. Pugin, which are understood to have been pained over by the Order of St Augustine's w

Murals by E.W. Pugin, which are understood to have been pained over by the Order of St Augustine's were uncovered after Father Paul Graham was sent a postcard of the murals before World War II - Credit: Archant

A church is appealing for funding to help restore its interior to its former glory after hidden murals were uncovered.

St Monica’s Roman Catholic Church in Hoxton Square needs to raise around £70,000 for the work to restore the recently discovered paintings by EW Pugin, a famed Victorian church architect who designed the building.

Art restorers were brought in by the church’s priest, Father Paul Graham, after he received a black and white postcard of the church, taken before the Second World War, which featured a beautiful etching or mural.

Realising they may be underneath the church’s paintwork, he employed the restorers in January.

The murals by Pugin, who also designed 100 other churches in England and who was the son of celebrated Victorian, neo-Gothic revival architect Augustus Welby Pugin, feature Latin inscriptions and stylised floral motifs.

Father Graham said: “I’m delighted we uncovered these EW Pugin designs to reveal the aesthetic beauty for our parishioners and our visitors to the church in preparation for our 150th anniversary in 2014.”

A spokesman for the Diocese of Westminster said it was understood the Order of St Augustine’s must have painted over these murals or etchings because they had a “different sense of the aesthetic” or simply because it was easier than restoring it.

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The Saint of Hoxton, a book by Jean Olwen Maynard about former parish priest Father Michael Kelly (1833-1914), nicknamed the Saint of the Slums, will raise funds for the restoration work.

Father Kelly, who set up a committee to relieve the distress from a severe winter, was instrumental in establishing the school and raising money for it.

He gained the respect of the local people, especially the Catholic poor, within three years of his arrival at the church in 1894.

An obituary to him appeared in The New York Times and pictures of his funeral covered the entire back page of the Edwardian London tabloid, The Daily Sketch.