RARE Tudor wall paintings discovered in the one-time home of one of England’s great writers are to be saved for future generations, along with the fabric of the house.

English Heritage has pledged £36,000 to help keep rainwater from damaging the interior of Shandy Hall in Coxwold, North Yorkshire.

The 15th Century timberframed house is best known as the home of Irish-born Laurence Sterne, author of Tristram Shandy, which was published between 1759 and 1769.

He was the vicar at the local church and wrote the classic novel while living there. It has come to be seen as one of the greatest comic novels in English.

Sterne renamed the house Shandy Hall after his fictional hero’s ancestral home and it became a place of pilgrimage for his fans, who flocked there after his death.

Today, visitors can sit in the study where Sterne wrote much of his ground-breaking novel, read his letters and even play with his pipe.

The house also featured in the 2005 film based on Tristram Shandy, A Cock and Bull Story.

However, Shandy Hall is also home to three rare wall paintings, including one of a 16th Century soldier.

Left unchecked, damp in the house, caused by a leaking roof would not only damage the fabric of the house, but would eventually cause the deterioration of the paintings.

A restoration project has been launched to repair the roof and pay for consolidation work to the paintings.

The work will be carried by the building’s owner, the Laurence Sterne Trust, and is due to start shortly.

English Heritage’s historic buildings architect, Hilary Roome, said: “This kind of building is a rare survival for its age but, together with these rare paintings and the Laurence Sterne connection, it is one of North Yorkshire’s great historic gems.

“Leaking roofs can quickly lead to the decay of fragile historic interiors, so this work is vital to the nip the problem in the bud and ensure future generations can marvel at this wonderful place, with its very rare paintings, which is so closely associated with such a beloved author and fictional character.”

The painting of a Tudor soldier is thought to date from about 1520 and was discovered behind 18th Century panelling during renovation work in the Sixties.

Other works are a painted ceiling beam in the same bedroom as the soldier painting, and another on a wattle and daub panel in the parlour.

By Mark Foster mark.foster@nne.co.uk Body found during hunt for pensioner THE body of a 64-year-old man was found after a major search operation.

The man, from the Tow Law area of County Durham, was reported missing by his wife at about 9.30pm on Wednesday, after she became concerned about his welfare.

Durham Police traced his mobile phone to the Waskerley Way footpath, near Hownsgill viaduct, in Consett.

The man was found at about 2am by members of the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team.

Dave Bartles-Smith, team leader, said: “Within 30 minutes, our search dog, which was on its first callout since qualifying, indicated he had made a find.”

County Durham and Darlington Coroner Andrew Tweddle is expected to open an inquest later this week.

Police have been unable to name the man yet because members of his family have not been informed.

Attacker told he could face prison A JUDGE has warned a man that he could be jailed after attacking another man using a bottle.

Gavin Johnson pleaded guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm and admitted that he hit Christopher Couch over the head with a bottle on September 12, last year.

Johnson, 29, from Thirsk, North Yorkshire, will be sentenced on February 26.

Judge Brian Forster adjourned the case so Probation Service officers could prepare a background report.

He told Johnson: “Clearly, you are in a very difficult position and you need a good report.”