Treasured wartime art found in church cupboard (held together with gaffer tape)

The work of art by Alexander Jamieson
The work of art by Alexander Jamieson

A missing work of art with local wartime significance has been discovered in a church store room.

The search for the piece began when Bucks County Museum curators decided to put together an exhibition on the First World War.

The work of art by Alexander Jamieson PNL-140404-094720001

The work of art by Alexander Jamieson PNL-140404-094720001

The summer display, to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War, needed a centrepiece – and curators decided that the perfect painting would be a work entitled An Incident In The Great War, by Weston Turville artist Alexander Jamieson.

The painting depicts Field Marshal Douglas Haig, who established the Royal British Legion.

Showing Haig addressing soldiers from his horse on a wartime battlefield, the image hung in the Royal British Legion Hall in Weston Turville, which was known colloquially as The Haig Hall.

A 1932 postcard of the image had been seen by the museum, but the piece itself disappeared when the hall was pulled down in the 1960s.

The museum contacted Weston Turville Historical society and the group took on the search challenge.

Members discovered that the painting had been moved to the Princes Risborough Royal British Legion Hall which was sold in 2011.

The hall is now the site of the Elim Church, and the society’s webmaster Adrian Randall found that the once-treasured painting was still there, stuffed into a cupboard.

He said: “Luckily it’s on the back of another painting, I think because of that it has been protected.

“It’s held together with gaffer tape and is not in very good condition.

“Personally it’s not my taste, but the main feeling that struck me when I saw it was its size, it’s almost as tall as me.

“I can see a lot of hindsight in the picture, it shows him on a horse with barbed wire, which was one of the biggest problems of the war.”

The painting is now being cared for at the Royal British Legion HQ, but it has not been decided whether it will be restored.

The historical society has offered to produce a digital restoration, which could be used in 
commemorations of the war this year.

Adrian said: “At the moment they don’t know if they have a heap of rubbish, or a £100,000 painting that they have to treat with respect. It’s almost a happy ending.”