‘Let the people decide’ fate of William Salter painting

Residents call for William Salter’s masterpiece to stay in the town.

‘Let the people of Honiton decide,’ say residents.

They are talking about the fate of a ‘masterpiece’, crafted by Honiton-born painter William Salter.

A debate was sparked when St Paul’s Church outlined proposals to sell the painting, The Entombment of Christ, which is in desperate need of restoration.

The church says it cannot afford to restore the painting, which Salter gifted to the ‘new church’ in 1838.

However, the majority of residents, who have expressed a view, say the painting should stay in the town - to ensure the town’s heritage is kept alive.

Sally Brooks said: “The people should decide what happens to the painting, rather than the church.

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“Something that was gifted to the town should stay in the town.

“I didn’t know anything about it and I’m not sure how many people would have been aware that the painting was there.

“It should be the town’s decision, but I can see both sides.”

Nicola Greenland, 39, said: “I quite like the painting. It is important to keep it, but if the church needs the money.

“If it was a gift, people should have a say on what happens to it.”

Sandra Isaac said: “Honiton ought to hang on to the painting.

“The town should have a say on whether it should be sold, as it was given to the town’s people. We should have an opportunity to decide.

“It is all part of the town’s history and a very important part of our heritage.

“I feel the church is the custodian looking after the painting on behalf of the town.

“I don’t think it should just be able to sell the painting, because it was gifted to the town.

“I realise the church is in dire straights, but I feel it is just the custodian of the painting.”

Teresa Allen, 64, said: “The church should sell it if they want to, but it should pay for their own upkeep.

“There should be a town vote on the matter - as long as they abide by the results.

“The church should try and find other means, if they want to keep the painting.”

Brenda Chillman, 86, said: “They want to get rid of everything that is lovely in the town and destroy everything that is good.

“I think the church should keep it here, in Honiton, and get it restored.

“The painting is very important for the town. We shouldn’t let stuff go out of Honiton.

“Lovely things in Honiton should be left alone – the painting has been here all this time and it should be kept in the town for people to enjoy.

“People should have a say on whether it should be sold.”