Conservation of Historic Monuments
St George’s church is a Grade 1 listed building that mostly dates from the fifteenth-century. The Poulett Memorial Chapel within the church is home to a splendid collection of monuments, dating from the sixteenth to eighteenth century. Five monuments within the chapel were identified for conservation by sculpture and architectural conservation specialists, Humphries & Jones. The monuments were all suffering from problems associated with the ingress of damp such as surface erosion and algal growth.
Conservation treatment was divided into two phases, the first of which focused on monitoring and alleviating problems associated with damp by the least interventive means possible, before moving on to further conservation of the monuments themselves. Examples of conservation works to the monuments included extensive and careful cleaning, the filling and re-pointing of open joints and the removal of corroding ferrous fixings where possible. The installation of a glazed screen allows the public to view the Poulett Chapel and its magnificent monuments, whilst providing improved security and air flow.
Conservation of Historic Stained Glass
St Oswald’s church is a Grade 1 listed building dating from the 1350s. A number of the windows in the north aisle contain important sixteenth and seventeenth century Flemish stained glass panels and roundels, which fell victim to stone throwing in 1998 and again ten years later.
In 2008 the glass was inspected by Jonathan & Ruth Cooke Ltd, following which conservation work was carried out to the damaged panels and roundels. It was also decided that isothermal glazing should be installed to prevent further deterioration. In this case, isothermal panels for the conserved glass within the main lights were installed rather than isothermal glazing to the whole window; a more cost effective option that also enabled the panels to be removed easily for exhibition purposes if required.
Conservation of a Group of Textiles
The Church of All Saints at Newland, traditionally known as the ‘Cathedral of the Forest’, was begun in the early 1200s and is a Grade 1 listed building. The church contains a significant group of twentieth-century ecclesiastical embroideries by Beryl Dean, the conservation of which formed part of a project to conserve the Lady Chapel, which commenced in 2005. The textiles include a frontal and dossal, a chalice veil and four banners. The conservation work was carried out by textile conservator Wendy Toulson, and included surface cleaning, re-sewing loose or broken stitching and repairing holes and damaged areas.
Conservation of Interior Woodwork
St Peter’s Church is a Grade 1 listed building dating from the fifteenth-century. The church is richly decorated with timberwork including early nineteenth-century box pews, a sixteenth-century roodscreen with nineteenth and twentieth century restorations, a pulpit and tester dated 1757, north aisle panelling, a parclose screen and a tower screen. Conservation of the interior woodwork was carried out in phases by Hugh Harrison, and priority was given to repairs to the floor and pews. There was considerable evidence of damp in the floors and the nave piers, and it was found that many of the floor joists and softwood floorboards were infested with deathwatch beetle. The decay was so extensive that the decision was taken to remove the unstable pews, take up the floors, remove the existing floor structure and then build a new structure which is isolated from the damp soil and well ventilated before finally reinstating the pews. A new oak floor joist was constructed over which new Douglas fir floor boards were then laid. The floor boards were stained to match the pews and ventilation grills were fitted to the floorboards under each pew seat. Upon completion of work by Hugh Harrison the parish gently cleaned and waxed the pews.
Conservation of Wall Paintings
All Saints Church, a Grade 1 listed building, dates from the twelfth-century. A project was commissioned to conserve the thirteenth and fourteenth century wall paintings and post-Reformation texts within the church. The wall paintings date from the early thirteenth century to the eighteenth century. Although the church would originally have been entirely painted, only some areas have survived. The medieval paintings in particular are of high quality and national importance.
The condition of the wall paintings varied considerably, some of the medieval painting was found to be weak and significant sections were unstable and vulnerable to paint loss. Remedial treatment was carried out to stabilise vulnerable areas of painting and prevent further loss. Minimal intervention was the watchword, with loose dirt and surface deposits being removed to improve the appearance of the painting. Conservation treatments included repair and grouting of the plaster substrate, readhesion of the paint layer, consolidation of the paint layer, limewashing and cleaning.