Torbryan panels hero dies

06 Feb 2020


We are saddened to have learnt of the death of Eddie Sinclair. Eddie was a specialist conservator in the conservation and research of historic painted surfaces for over thirty five years. Her work included projects for Churches Conservation Trust, English Heritage, The National Trust, cathedrals, abbeys, non CCT churches, synagogues, museums, City Councils and private individuals. Some of her most recent work was at St Mary’s Lydiard Tregoze in Wiltshire. 

Eddie initially trained at Exeter Cathedral through an apprenticeship which began in 1979. At Exeter she worked under Professor Robert Baker on the west front of the Cathedral and Anna Hulbert on the interior medieval polychromed roof bosses and wall paintings. During her time at Exeter, Eddie also had experience in training as a stone carver and mason.

Since 1983 she worked as a freelance conservator, gaining wider experience around the country, assisting a number of conservators in private practice, before setting up as an independent conservator, specialising in west country polychromy. It is Eddie's specialism that made her such an important conservator for Churches Conservation Trust to use.

Eddie, along with Hugh Harrison, played a vital role in painstakingly conserving and restoring the historic rood screen panels from Holy Trinity, Torbryan.

The decorative oak panels, bearing paintings of St Victor of Marseilles and St Margaret of Antioch, are considered of national importance, and were stolen from Holy Trinity Church at Torbryan in Devon in August 2013.  The panels remained missing until they were recovered by the Metropolitan Police Art & Antiques Unit after being spotted by a private collector in an online sale. This led to a raid by specialist detectives in south London in January 2015.

Eddie Sinclair working on the Torbryan Panels

Eddie’s lasting legacy for us will be the panels at Torbryan. She based herself at Exeter to carry out the repairs to these panels after the Royal Albert Memorial Museum generously donated their laboratory to us to use for the conservation and repair work on the panels. Anyone who visits them today will find it hard to see how badly damaged these panels once were as a result of the theft. It is to Eddie’s credit and her devotion to conserving the fabric and artefacts of historic churches that people today, and in the future, can once again admire these beautiful panels.

We, along with everyone she has worked with, owe Eddie an enormous debt of gratitude. Thank you.

© St Marys Lydiard Tregoze Eddie at work inside St Marys Lydiard Tregoze