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Discovery of a forgotten masterpiece paves way for Treske Furniture

Treske, a North Yorkshire manufacturer of bespoke furniture, kitchens and church furnishings, has played a pivotal part in the transformation of a Wilshire church, following the church’s discovery of a 16th century Flemish painting worth over £1m.  

The award-winning company, based in Thirsk, has now installed the furniture at the 13th century Holy Trinity Church in Bradford-on-Avon. 

Justin Bartlett, the owner and managing director of Treske, said: “This is a fascinating story, the equivalent of Holy Trinity winning the lottery. For more than 70 years, a small, apparently unremarkable painting, depicting Christ blessing, hung unnoticed on the walls of the medieval parish church.

“Its true value was first discovered in 2006, when two art historians, researching another painting in the church, stumbled across it. It was revealed to be a Flemish masterpiece by Quentin Metsys, dated about 1500. It had originally been given to the church in 1940 by Major T Goff, an illegitimate great grandson of King William IV.

“Metsys, a prominent member of the accomplished Dutch and Flemish school of the 15th and 16th centuries, is held in high regard today. So when his painting was sold by private treaty in 2013, it fetched in excess of £1million, a windfall that almost every parish church in the country could only dream about.

“Here was a chance to substantially renovate Holy Trinity and make it suitable for worship in the 21st century. Without doubt this renovation, which has just been completed, is the most significant in the church’s rich and colourful history.”

Treske, now regarded as the most accomplished designer and manufacturer of church furniture in the UK, was commissioned to provide Holy Trinity with a solid oak nave altar, with a hand-carved cross on top; eight solid oak choir frontals; 37 solid oak, three-seater benches; one priest’s desk; 11 St Mary’s armchairs in solid oak; and 11 St Mary’s side chairs. 

Russell Clynch, commercial director of Treske, said: “This was a very rewarding project for us, given the quality and the significance of the church refurbishment. We are also very proud to be a Yorkshire company representing our region in the south west of England.” 

The Rector, the Rev Joanna Abecassis, explained that the crucial aim of the regeneration project was to create a church which was enabled to throw open its doors to all – who would then find it a warm and welcoming space.

She said: “The stone walls have all been cleaned and are now golden whereas they used to be grey, and the pillars shine out at you which, together with the glorious new Bath stone floor with its Portland stone inlay, and with the whole effect enhanced by the new oak furniture, are simply bowling people over.”

Architecture Angela Dudley said: “The Treske furniture looks wonderful in its setting. The oak benches and chairs are also 100 per cent more comfortable than the old pews.”

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