In 2011, the decorators made an exciting discovery. Beneath sheets of white painted plywood, above the paneling on the Red Sea Carpet, lay a series of remarkable hand-painted murals depicting local scenes from the eleventh century.
Further investigations confirmed that the paintings were by Nicolaas (Nico) Jungmann. Born in Amsterdam in 1871, Jungmann came to London in 1893 and became a British citizen. He not only painted landscapes and people in their national dress but also illustrated books and worked as a picture restorer. He exhibited work throughout Europe but was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was interned by the Germans in 1916 until the end of hostilities in 1918.
The restoration and conservation work was carried out by Desmond Shanahan and Alex Schouvaloff (Alex has also worked on restorations at the Hermitage in St Petersburg). They did an outstanding job, especially on the murals that were badly water-damaged – perhaps the reason for covering them up.