By Amelia Wynne For Mailonline
Published: 13:43 BST, 14 October 2019 | Updated: 16:58 BST, 14 October 2019
Stunned church officials have discovered a statue hidden by a stone mason ordered to destroy his own work by Charles II - more than 350 years ago.
St Mary's Church in Lydiard Tregoze near Swindon, Wiltshire, has been welcoming worshippers since 1100.
But in the 1660s the ornate religious imagery that decorated the church walls was ordered to be destroyed during the 'Restoration' period.
World-renowned conservator Jane Rutherford with the head of a statue of St Christopher which was found in a niche in St Mary's Church during restoration work
One mason working at the small church decided he would hide his work (pictured) instead of destroying it
The niche in which the face of a statue of St Christopher was found, which has remained intact for hundreds of years at the church in Swindon
Paul Gardener, chair of the restoration project at St Mary's Church holds a piece of debris which was found in the niche alongside the face of a statue of St Christopher
King Charles II ordered the purge as he sought to eradicate the Puritan ideals of his predecessor Oliver Cromwell.
But one mason working at the small church decided that instead of destroying his work - he'd simply hide it.
The stone carving and a small statue of St Christopher have now been found by conservationists currently working on a £1million restoration project.
Chair of the project Paul Gardner said: 'Behind one of the wall