Frank Simpson (1863-1942) was a prominent figure within his native city of Chester. During the First World War he was Quartermaster of the Chester Volunteers formed for home defence in 1914. While the English Heritage website says the wall paintings in Chester castle were discovered in the 1980s, Lewis mentions them as being visible in 1848. Frank Simpson mentions the paintings as partly visible in 1928 and describes the interior of the chapel as follows:
- "The interior walls of the chapel have a coating of plaster about a quarter of an inch thick, some of which may still be seen on the walls. They were formerly ornamented with very fine frescoes. On either side of the light above the altar was a representation of Moses receiving the Tablets of the Commandments on the Mount, while the Devil, in nondescript form, is making an energetic attempt to seize them. This fresco was distinctly seen in 1810, when a sketch was made of it by John Musgrove, a well-known local artist, but, like the others, it is now entirely obliterated owing to damage to the plaster and numerous coats of lime and yellow wash. On the west side of the south (pointed) window, on the upper portion of the wall were the remains of a fresco, displaying a very beautiful face, looking east, with a mustache and short pointed beard, the head surmounted with what appeared to be a mitre. The right hand was closed, with the first finger pointing forward and the arm outstretched, below were traces of a flowing robe. During March and April (1928) numerous remains of these paintings were brought to light, the best being on the wall just below the groining of the first bay, east end of the right side. This represents a young man and woman embracing. The the left of the doorway near the groining is a hand grasping a sword and on the west wall is a goblet or chalice similar in shape to a champagne glass. The altar recess is filled with faint vestiges of paintings, but on the other side of the window above the recess, little is to be seen of the painting sketched by Musgrove in 1810. This is accounted for by the fact that little of the plaster is left on the wall, but there are other remnants of a frieze, just below the groining which surrounds the chapel. On the south side of the center of the groining appeared the head and shoulders of a horse. It is now clear, that all the walls and groining in the chapel were originally covered with frescoes, but owing to damp, neglect and damage caused by putting up shelves for storage purposes, much of the plaster has been broken off. The most striking feature of the relics of the paintings in this chapel is the beauty of the drawing and colouring of the faces, which appear to have been numberless. The paintings are now hardly visible, but when damped with a wet brush they stand out with all their beauty and richness of colouring."
Nowadays using a wet brush in the manner suggested would be frowned upon!
Frank Simpson was a keen photographer as well as the author of several works on Chester:
- "The Cheshire Regiment," or 22nd regiment of foot. In the Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society, 11 Year: 1905
- Medal to commemorate Chester Musical Festival, 1829: Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society, 1906
- Simpson, F., (1928). A few Cheshire worthies. Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society 28 (1). Vol 28(1), pp. 106-136.
- Simpson, F., (1933). The Newgate. Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society 30 (2). Vol 30(2), pp. 79-93.
- Simpson, F., (1908). The River Dee. Journal of the Chester Archaeological Society 14. Vol 14, pp. 85-111.
- The Walls of Chester (1910)
- The Cheshire Regiment Or 22nd Regiment of Foot (1910);
- Chester City Guilds: The Barber-Surgeons' Company (1911);
- A History of the Church of St. Peter in Chester: Including Quaint and Interesting Extracts from Its Old Registers, and a Brief Reference to Its Former Surroundings (1909);
- His diaries are available here;