A painting by an atheist British war artist worth thousands of pounds is to be sold by a church after it was found in a cupboard.

Before the Sepulchre, a 1944 work by Adrian Allinson, was discovered by a group clearing out the old Ruxley Church building, in Ruxley Lane, West Ewell.

The clean-out early last year was in preparation for the church's move to new premises on the same road last June.

After contacting the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow the painting was filmed for the programme last May, although it was not shown on TV, and was valued at £2,000 to £3,000.

This Is Local London:

Pam and Derek Eade with Clive Stewart-Lockhart at the BBC's Antiques Roadshow

Derek Eade, the church’s project manager, said: "The painting was given to then St Francis of Assisi Church in Ewell some years before, back in the early 1960s, by a couple whose parents had died, in memorial of them. 

"We approached the family again when we were to move and the relatives authorised that we could apply to the diocese to sell it as they didn’t want it back. 

"It was like a godsend as this was a significant way to move our fundraising forward.

"On the reverse on the painting you can see where the artist had tried to paint a landscape.  It is unfinished but it’s two paintings for the price of one.

"Another painting by the same artist recently sold for £8,500."

The 68-year-old, of Pams Way, Ewell, said the painting is to be sold, rather than be displayed in the church, because the congregation felt it was too old-fashioned for the modern building.

He said: "It’s because now we have a very modern church and the picture is very old-style so it wouldn’t be suitable for hanging in the new church. 

"That was the general feeling of the congregation.  They didn’t want it hanging there."

The painting hung in the chapel of St. Francis of Assisi Church until the late 1990s when the building had to be demolished due to subsidence. 

Mr Eade said the congregation and its artefacts moved into Ruxley Methodist Church along the road and "the painting had been forgotten". 

The two congregations then formed an ecumenical partnership as Ruxley Church.

Allinson produced drawings for the Daily Express newspaper during World War One and was a Government war artist in World War Two.

Mr Eade is currently organising for the painting to be auctioned and money raised will help buy equipment for the new church. 

To view a selection of Adrian Allinson’s paintings click here.


Born in London in 1890 and died aged 69

A painter, potter and engraver

Son of a doctor and a portrait painter 

Gave up studying Medicine to pursue art

A pacifist who associated himself with the Bloombsury Group during WW1

Helped Madame Tussauds create a wax sculpture of Kwame Nkrumah, leader of Ghana, who oversaw the country's independence from the British