Maintenance
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Supporting over 16,000 cathedral and church buildings of The Church of England

Maintenance

Like most other contents of a church building, monuments require stable relative humidity. In order to avoid contact with moisture, keep objects of porous materials off damp floors. A weathertight building is key in the preservation of monuments and other historic contents in churches. We recommend the following practical measures:

  • Problems associated with high relative humidity, damp, or salt crystallisation are generally caused by failings elsewhere in the building. Good maintenance of rainwater goods, drains, roofs including flashings and flaunchings - and avoiding the use of impervious materials for pointing, plastering and rendering, and decoration is emphasised above all else.
  • The surfaces of stone, plaster and terracotta are vulnerable and, therefore, dust levels around sculpture should be kept low in order to reduce handling and cleaning to a minimum, ideally just dusting with a soft brush. However, please note that the delicate surfaces of sculpture should not be directly cleaned as it can damage decorative elements (e.g. painted surfaces). On no account use proprietary cleaners or metal polishes.
  • Handling or moving should not be contemplated without careful consideration and planning. A specialist needs to be consulted before moving large heavy items or complex sculpture.
  • In order to ensure the sculpture's safety, as well as that of church visitors, plinths and pedestals need to stand firm without rock
  • Flower displays should not be placed on, or touch, any part of a monument. Vases in church buildings (placed away from monuments) should only contain damp oasis and flowers and plants should not to be watered, misted or sprayed near historical surfaces. All spills should be wiped up immediately. We also recommend that lilies have their stamens removed, as the pigmentation can permanently discolour the surrounding area (arrangements should be made for removal of stamens each day). Avoid using sand, gravel or glitter, as these materials are difficult to clear, are abrasive and will damage historical surfaces.
  • Do not use heaters or blow dryers to dry wet plaster as this can lead to staining.