Treasured art work goes through the roof at Coughton Court near Alcester - The Leamington Observer

Treasured art work goes through the roof at Coughton Court near Alcester

Leamington Editorial 7th May, 2024   0

TREASURED art works often go through the roof at auction.

What makes for a more unusual sight is one literally going through a roof – but that’s what happened at Coughton Court near Alcester recently.

A crane was brought in to remove the Tabula Eliensis, which has remained in the tower at the top of a winding staircase at the National Trust property for nearly 70 years.

It was not previously possible to move the treasured painted cloth due to its size and delicate condition, until the Through the Roof project provided a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to lift it through an opening in the soon-to-be-repaired roof.




Protected by a bespoke crate, the large painted cloth measuring 2.3metres by 2.6metres was craned out by fine art handlers with the support of National Trust’s conservation team.

Re-discovered in a roof-space at Coughton Court in the early 1900s, the 16th century Tabula Eliensis has been displayed in the tower since the mid-1950s.


An incredibly rare survival, this Elizabethan painted cloth records a history of Ely covering nearly 1,000 years. Created in 1596, it speaks to a turbulent period in English history, when Elizabeth I repeatedly faced imminent invasion from the Catholic Philip II of Spain.

Safely freed from the tower, it will now undergo conservation treatment, technical examination and research before returning to Coughton Court.

Project manager Aimee Tavana said: “The chance to free the Tabula Eliensis from the Tower showroom is exciting. With the removal of the roof, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to move the Tabula Eliensis from where it has been marooned for almost 70 years, to facilitate its care and future re-display in an area of the property that is more easily accessible to all.

“We have been able to work with several highly skilled and specialist contractors, which has made the 7am start times worth it. We’re very pleased to be able to ensure the Tabula Eliensis can be protected and enjoyed by our visitors for generations to come.’”

Through the Roof runs until 2025 and will see key sections of the roof conserved, along with essential conservation works across the fabric of the property.

This is the biggest conservation investment by the National Trust at Coughton Court with the project being funded by the charity’s members, supporters and donors with grant funding donated by The Wolfson Foundation.

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