Thursday, 20 August 2009

Renewing stones.

Nine hundred years can be hard on a building. It needs a lot of TLC to keep it looking good and to keep it standing and stable. One reason the Abbey is still standing is that in the 19th Century the architect Gilbert Scott was commissioned to undertake a major restoration. Scott's radical repairs and even more his ruthless removal of all the 16th, 17th and 18th Century clutter from the Abbey triggered protests in Parliament (As if they'd know anything about churches) and eventually the foundation of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings and English Heritage.

If either organisation operated on common sense and recognised the fact that these buildings are here because they have evolved, changed and adapted to changing circumstances I would have more sympathy with their attempts at preservation. But the work on the Abbey tower is an effective case in point. The West Face of the Tower is badly eroded. In fact some of the detail on the blind arcading will no longer even be visible in as little as ten years, yet English Heritage and the SPAB are adamant that what little remains is "historically important" and must under no circumstances be replaced. Until, of course, it crumbles and vanishes altogether. So now we have the crazy situation where in order to preserve the building we are replacing some stones, beautifully carved to be exact replicas of the original and even using tools identical to those used by the original workmen - yet these are set in place among stones so worn the pattern is already all but lost.


But here, for those interested, are some views of the work and of the damage that must be addressed. If you are interested in offering us some assistance in completing the work or assisting the work of the Abbey, please contact the Abbey Office through the website.

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