Altar Front Restoration for All Saints Church

by Hand & Lock

Church Altar cloths act as a symbolic representation of the shroud used to wrap Christ after the crucifixion. This cloth will be accompanied by a frontal, or antependium, (Latin meaning “to hang before”). This frontal faces the congregation and is often decorated with precious hand embroidery, depicting scenes from the bible. Frontals have a dominant colour and are changed according to the seasonal Church celebration. Purple or blue for Advent; white or gold for Christmas and Easter; green after Epiphany and Pentecost; violet or unbleached muslin for Lent and red for Holy Week.

In 2020 All Saints Church on London’s Margaret Street approached Hand & Lock to complete a delicate restoration of one of their precious Altar Frontals. The gothic-revival Church, designed by William Butterfield and built between 1850 and 1859, has a breathtakingly decorative interior. Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, the north wall features a large ceramic tile frieze and the ceiling is painted with bold graphic repeating patterns. Well maintained and recently restored, the church is as impressive today as it would have been when the church opened in 1859.

Hand & Lock were tasked with restoring and repairing the Altar Front to bring it in line with the rest of the spectacular church space. Gold passing that outlined decorative elements had become damaged and discoloured as well as the latin text that ran along the bottom. Hand & Lock set about sympathetically replacing all the gold passing. Where the Frontal had been folded there was some surface damage to the figures at either end, these had to be carefully repaired and made more durable. With the work was completed the restored altar frontal was ready to take its place in the historic church.