Do you sometimes dream of finding a real treasure in your home? Be it a rare stone in the garden or an old, valuable heirloom in the attic. For most, such discoveries remain wishful thinking. But for Luke Budworth, a 29-year-old medical researcher at the University of Leeds, that became a reality.
By chance, a craftsman while renovating his kitchen in the British city of York noticed a wooden board behind his kitchen cabinets. Then Budworth noticed that a similar piece of wood was mounted just on the opposite side of the chimney. Curious about what was behind it, he got his tools and removed the boards. Then he could hardly believe his eyes: he discovered an elaborately painted frieze on the wall. According to a report in the British newspaper The Guardian, it dates from around 1660.
His first thoughts when he saw the mural were mixed, Budworth recalls in an interview with WELT: "When I saw the first picture, I didn't recognize the meaning of the picture at first - I thought it was wallpaper from the Victorian era.” While that would have been pretty cool too, the Brit said, it's pretty common in the old houses of the north-east England city.
"But when I saw the second picture I knew it was much, much older - and then I was really, really excited. I would say that that excitement was tempered a bit by a desperate 'What am I going to do now?!' feeling - plus nervousness at the fact that I now have an important burden to bear - the preservation of this beautiful piece of heritage!" , according to Budworth.
England's national heritage agency, Historic England, estimates that the two murals are believed to be far older than the buildings on either side of the wall. The friezes show scenes from the 1635 volume of poems "Emblems" by the poet Francis Quarles (1592 - 1644). For example, one emblem shows a girl or a woman in the forest riding a deer towards an angel. A second emblem shows a man being held in a cage under a tree and being freed by an angel.
After Budworth's motif was found in 2021, the monument preservation authority helped him to carefully uncover the paintings. This has lasted until now. Since then, however, the question has arisen as to how the fragile wall structure and colors can best be preserved. There is currently a lack of practical solutions. Therefore, Budworth initially decided to have the entire mural reprinted on a banner and to hang it over the original as protection.
He hopes that in the future there may be some new conservation methods in archeology that could also be applied to the mural in his apartment. Until then, he advises residents in his neighborhood: "I also hope this inspires other people to take a closer look at their own walls."
This biologist made an accidental find of a different kind in Thailand: