Winterbourne Family History Online... Return to the Hospital Page
US Chapel at Frenchay Hospital
The chapel used by the American soldiers at Frenchay Hospital during WW2 was later used as a Pathology department, and a false ceiling was added below the rafters of the hip roof.
After the hospital finally closed in 2014, the false ceiling was opened up and this painting of the 'Hand of God' (Manus Dei)was discovered.
As it was still in a very good state of preservation, Selina Fowler, a hospital employee, thought it would be a good idea to preserve the painting if at all possible. It had been painted on a single-skin brick wall right up in the apex of the wall, just below the roof. A tricky job to remove, but worth trying.
In January 2015 Paul Green of the Frenchay Village Museum took a team in and, by bolting on a wooden frame all round the painting, managed to cut out the area around the painting, remove it from the wall and lower it to ground level. So far so good.
Then on Tuesday 20th January 2015, Paul got another team together to transport the painting to a place of safety in Hambrook.
The US Chapel as seen during WW2
The chapel building today. Now due for demolition.
"Manus Dei" before removal from the wall.
This is the hole left after removing the wall and painting.
At ground level, waiting to be moved out.
On the trolley, along the corridor...
...out through the door...
...and onto the front steps.
Carefully does it - down the steps...
...ready to load into the van.
It was at about this point that the frame parted at the bottom,
and a hair line crack appeared across the centre of the painting.
But not bad going so far.
Into the van...
And safely stored in Hambrook.
Well done everyone.
Now it has to be decided where it will eventually be displayed.
Watch this space.