Church near Kettering to show off restoration work on internationally significant statues

Cleaning on monument to Lady Mary Duchess of Montagu 1775. The four statues being restored are at St Edmund's Church in Warkton

Cleaning on monument to Lady Mary Duchess of Montagu 1775. The four statues being restored are at St Edmund's Church in Warkton

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People can inspect ongoing restoration to a pair of 18th and 19th-century statues housed at a village church near Kettering.

The Montagu Monuments at St Edmund’s Church in Warkton, which are currently the subject of a £498,000 conservation project, will be shown off to visitors every Thursday until the end of October.

The openings, known as Hard Hat Thursdays, are free for anybody interested to come along, with an opportunity to make a donation to the renovation.

The Carrera marble monuments commemorate members of the Montagu family, ancestors of the Duke of Buccleuch who lives at Boughton House near Geddington.

Two of the marble sculptures are by the French rococo sculptor Louis-François Roubiliac, and all are said to be of international significance. Roubiliac’s work also adorns Westminster Abbey.

Adam Clarke of the Prince’s Regeneration Trust, which is overseeing the restoration scheme, said: “People came from far and wide to witness the transformation of these wonderful sculptures during the initial opening season in August.

“Every Thursday, the chancel was packed to capacity. We look forward, now, to many more special days ahead with visitors to these celebrated monuments.”

Gareth Fitzpatrick MBE, from the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust, added: “Hard Hat Thursdays, along with two special Heritage Open Days, offer rare opportunities to witness conservation in action as the project moves into its final stages this autumn.

“Thanks to painstaking efforts of the team at Skillingtons Workshop, we expect work to be completed later this year.”

The Montagu Monuments will open to the public between 10am and 4pm on Thursdays until the end of October.

Entry to Hard Hat Thursdays is free of charge, and there will be an opportunity to make a donation to the restoration project.

The conservation project, which began in February 2014, is being funded by the Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust, St Edmund’s Church Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund.