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This is what Norwich legend Samson REALLY looks like!

PUBLISHED: 06:30 03 April 2019 | UPDATED: 10:08 03 April 2019

Samson and Hercules ballroom, late 1960's. Photo: Archant Library

Samson and Hercules ballroom, late 1960's. Photo: Archant Library

Archant

Imagine having to remove your make-up with a hacksaw.

The restored iconic 17th century statue of Samson at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe restored iconic 17th century statue of Samson at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

That was the scenario for a Norwich legend, who is almost unrecognisable after having 60 layers of paint removed during a £15,000 facelift.

Now the real, slimmer, Samson is revealed - and he is a wooden statue who was once painted gold.

THe indomitable figure was a stalwart of a night out in Norwich, welcoming people to one of the city’s most popular dance halls as a doorman with his partner Hercules.

Now, after being removed from his Tombland home in 1993 and following the crowdfunding campaign and almost four years of conservation work, the 17th century oak statue of Samson has gone back on display at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell.

Jenny Caynes, curator, with the iconic 17th century statue of Samson back in Norwich after being restored, and proudly standing to greet visitors at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYJenny Caynes, curator, with the iconic 17th century statue of Samson back in Norwich after being restored, and proudly standing to greet visitors at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Forming half of one of Norwich’s most famous double acts, for decades Samson stood guard in Tombland, during which time he survived two world wars, a fire, the antics of Norwich’s revellers and several paint jobs which saw the statue become encased in the 60 layers of paint.

The paint cocoon forced conservators to use some unusual methods.

Jenny Caynes, curator at the Museum of Norwich, said: “It was both delicate and quite unusual for a conservation project because all of the layers of paint had formed a cocoon around his wooden body so they had no choice but to use hacksaws to make those first few cuts.

“It was extremely nerve wracking and we were very much working with Plowden & Smith to discover the best possible way to complete the project.”

The restored iconic 17th century statue of Samson at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell holding the jawbone of an ass. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe restored iconic 17th century statue of Samson at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell holding the jawbone of an ass. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

But once removed from his shell the statue’s intricate carvings could be seen once again.

Ms Caynes said: “It was almost like revealing the perfect statue, it really was the big reveal. One of the discoveries we made was that there were remains of paint on him. Originally he would have been gilded in areas,” she said.

Newly installed in his new home at the Museum of Norwich, Ms Caynes said the statue of the Norwich legend had a lot of presence in the room: “Everyone is excited to see him. You can’t underestimate how much people have taken him to their hearts, most people have an association with Samson and Hercules,” she said.

Expressing thanks to all those who supported the campaign to restore Samson, Ms Caynes said: “We really think its fitting that once again he stands tall and proud like a gate keeper to the city of Norwich.”

The iconic 17th century statue of Samson is back in Norwich after being restored, and proudly stands to greet visitors at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe iconic 17th century statue of Samson is back in Norwich after being restored, and proudly stands to greet visitors at the Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell is open Tuesday to Saturday 10am-4.30pm.

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