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'Discovery of a lifetime': Restorers accidentally find Renaissance-era paintings behind wall

Taylor Avery
USA TODAY

Restorers in England made “the discovery of a lifetime” by accident when they found paintings dating back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Likely dating to sometime between 1540 and 1580, the paintings feature swirls, birds with teeth and tiny men in hats. The paintings were found behind wall plaster being removed during restoration efforts. 

"Wall paintings were prized in grand Tudor houses, and from time to time, patches of them are revealed. But never in my own 27 years of working in historic buildings have I ever witnessed a discovery like this," Anna Keay, the director of Landmark Trust, said in a statement

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The wall-to-ceiling paintings were found in the Calverley Old Hall, a manor house in Yorkshire, England, being restored by the Landmark Trust, a conservation charity in the United Kingdom. The red, white and black paintings are typical of Grotesque style, an Italian style fashioned after a royal palace of Roman Emperor Nero. 

The paintings and the manor are being restored with the help of public donations. 

"Their importance cannot be doubted. With them a slice of the lives of our ancestors has been restored to us, and nothing comes close to that," Keay said.