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    The Northampton Eleanor Cross

    February 13, 2020 by Josh Lee in 0 comments
    Queen Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I, died of a fever at Harby (Nottinghamshire) in 1290, from whence her body was taken to Lincoln. Edward, deeply affected by her death, erected crosses at each of the 12 resting places of her funeral procession from Lincoln to Westminster. Her viscera were buried at Lincoln, her heart at London Blackfriars, her bones in Westminster Abbey.   Of the 12 original crosses three survive in anywhere like complete form, at Geddington, Hardingstone (Northampton) and at Waltham. All are of absolutely outstanding importance and beauty, but in our opinion the Hardingstone, or Northampton, Cross is the best of all! Built in the early 1290s of a combination of local limestones, Purbeck marble (probably – none survives), and for the four statues of Eleanor, Caen stone.   There is a history of decay, repair, restoration and conservation almost as long as the history of the Cross. The top is recorded as having been lost by the time of the Battle of Northampton in 1460 – the cross stands at the edge of the battlefield, and at least ten programmes of work are recorded since 1713 – most recently using lime-based conservation repairs in 1984, […]

    Crystal Palace Park Sphinxes

    October 20, 2016 by Tony in 0 comments
    Crystal Palace Park was created in the early 1850s to form a setting for Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace, which had housed the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park. The Crystal Palace was rebuilt in the new park in 1852-55, only to be gutted by a fire in 1936.   The Italian terraces and steps that formed the immediate setting for the Crystal Palace survive, as does a set of six sphinxes, set in pairs at the head of three great sets of granite steps. The rather derelict south-west steps and all six sphinxes are the subjects of the conservation contract won by Skillingtons, with Bromley Borough Council our client.   The sphinxes, said to be copied from an original in the Louvre, are listed grade II and modeled in concrete around a brick core. They were in varying states of repair with cracking, surface delamination and areas of complete loss are evident. As well as making good all these defects our works included the recreation of the original painted schemes using silicate mineral paints.   The steps required extensive dismantling and rebuilding together with the provision of new support walls, and some replacements, all of which was done by […]

    Warkton Church

    January 22, 2015 by Tony in 0 comments
    St. Edmund’s church, Warkton, Northamptonshire was given a new chancel in about 1750 designed to house a series of monuments to the Montagus of Boughton House. It’s now known that the chancel was designed by Louis Francois Roubiliac, who has long known to have been responsible for the monuments to John, 2nd Duke of Montagu (d.1749) and to his wife Mary (d.1751). Roubiliac is widely recognised as the outstanding sculptor of his age and these are two of his masterpieces, which would sit just as comfortably in Westminster Abbey.   Still, they barely out shadow the wonderful monument to Mary Duchess of Montagu of 1777-82 by Peter Mathias van Gelder, with the last monument of the series, to Elizabeth Duchess of Buccleuch (d.1827) by Thomas Campbell being a fine work in its own right, even if rather austere by comparison.   The monuments have been a cause of concern since about 1980, when fractures due to corroding iron fixings were noted on Duke John’s monument. The causes of deterioration (including staining to all the monuments) were complex, with the impact of the environment within the chancel itself – with its large east window – being unclear. Despite the involvement of […]

    Sandridge Church

    May 21, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    St. Leonard’s church, Sandridge, near St Albans, was extensively restored in the 19th century when the surviving 14th century decorated medieval floor tiles were relaid in panels within a pavement of much harder glazed tiles in the chancel. For many years one group of four panels had been of great concern as it was bulging, having lifted in the centre by at least 75mm, and with some of the tiles over this bulge having already collapsed there were not only trip hazards but the tiles themselves were at great risk.   Skillingtons initially surveyed the tiles in 2011 and determined that a combination of re-pointing with hard cement and soluble salts being transferred from the bedding concrete had caused the bulging, and the breakdown of several of the tiles. In 2014 we were commissioned to carry out recommendations made in our initial report, including carefully lifting and conserving these four panels (comprising some 256 medieval tiles), removing all cement, consolidating localised areas of fabric decay, and re-bedding in their original (19th century) locations all in lime mortar, having replaced the Victorian concrete bedding mortar.   Some tiles were beyond repair and were replaced by purpose-made copies (by Company of Artisans […]

    Norwich War Memorial

    May 07, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    Sir Edwin Lutyens’ War Memorial in the Memorial Gardens in the centre of Norwich underwent a major programme of restoration between 2009 and 2010. Skillingtons had initially been bought in by the City Council to give pre-tender advice on the conservation of the bronze adornments, and were subsequently appointed as specialist sub-contractors to carry out this work.   There were four smaller flagpoles, complete with wreaths in various states of survival, flambeaux urns and bases for two larger flagpoles with wonderful friezes cast in relief around their sides. All but the latter had originally been gilded.   All were carefully removed to safe and secure storage to allow others to carry out repairs to the stonework, and reinstated on completion.   We replicated three out of four of the wreaths belonging to bronze flagpoles, casting in bronze and gilding to match the original. Due to metal fatigue the flambeaux urn bases were removed and renewed in bronze, and finally gilded. The city crest was also repainted and gilded with authentic colours to match the original. The two larger flagpole bases were cleaned and waxed.   Contract value range: Approximately £25K Main Contractor: R.G. Carter Ltd of Norwich. Contract Administrator: NPS […]

    Colsterworth War Memorial

    May 07, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    Colsterworth war memorial is a good example of what may be achieved during conservation, and covered the whole ethical scope from a non interventive approach to wholesale replacement of stone elements.

    Norwich St Peters Parmentergate

    May 02, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    Redundant since 1981 and situated on King Street, St. Peter Parmentergate is now in the care of The Norwich Historic Churches Trust. Within the chancel lies a rare early C.17th plaster monument to Richard Berney and his wife Elizabeth (Hobart).   Dr Carrington has been involved with this monument in various ways for many years and in 2006 produced a detailed survey report on this, as well as numerous other Norwich church monuments for the NHCT. Skillingtons subsequently won the competitive tender to carry out the conservation work required, which was undertaken during 2008.   The monument is almost entirely constructed of pre-formed coloured plaster panels and mouldings, some of which were seriously fractured. Analysis of small fragments revealed mixes often associated with scagliola.   Technically quite challenging, the canopy and the tomb chest on which the recumbent figures were resting were both in danger of collapsing. A special scaffold was adapted to support the canopy whilst our trim member of staff squeezed inside the tomb chest to assemble a specially designed stainless steel frame to support the weight of the figures and canopy.   Contract value range: £25-£50K Client: The Norwich Historic Churches Trust Architect: Michael Wingate   To […]

    Norwich Cathedral

    May 02, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    Skillingtons carried out a specialist stone conservation sub-contract as part of a major scheme to provide new visitor facilities at the Cathedral during 2004.   The works involved very subtle cleaning using a combination of dry and wet brushing, biocide applications, ammonium carbonate poultices, and to some of the sculptures micro-airbrasive work. We then carried out extensive re-pointing as well as lime mortar repairs and localised sheltercoats to eroded stonework.   The overall impression of the completed work was subtle, leaving the medieval stonework looking in good repair and well cared for but not ‘restored’.   Contract Value: Approximately £20K Main Contractor: F.A.Valiant & Son Ltd Architect: Freeland Rees Roberts, Cambridge Similar projects

    Kirby Hall

    May 02, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    One of England’s finest Elizabethan houses by Sir Humphrey Stafford, and later passing into the hands of Sir Christopher Hatton, Lord Chancellor to Queen Elizabeth.   Much of this building is now sadly roofless, but the walls have stood up remarkably well and retain much of its styling with embellishments in parts by Nicholas Stone.   Now in the care of English Heritage, the gardens are being slowly restored to their ‘cutwork’ design. The restoration of the gardens would be incomplete without ornamentation which required the replication of four life-size classical figures from the collection of statuary at Wrest Park.   We also conserved the oversized truncated torso of the Rape of the Sabine which had previously laid almost forgotton and abandoned within the grounds of the Hall. Before mounting the figure on its new pedestal we liased with a structural engineer in order to make the figure safe for this unmanned site.   Contract value range: Various contracts Client: English Heritage   To view the gallery, simply click on an image. Once open you can also run a slide show of all gallery images for the Conservation Projects section. Similar projects

    Houghton House

    May 02, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    Skillingtons won the main contract for the repair of this ruinous Jacobean mansion in Bedfordshire for English Heritage. The work was carried out during 2006 and comprised the conservation of brickwork, clunch conservation and replacement, stabilisation and protection of decorative and plain plasterwork, and wall cappings.   Particular issues with this project were: working in phases that allowed continuity of public access to the majority of the site; security of a remote site; and stabilising parts of the building fabric that were never designed to be exposed to the elements in the way that they now are.   The work was completed to a very high standard, to programme and to a budget, all in all giving this fascinating property a new lease of life in its ruinous form.   Contract value range: £150-£200K Client: English Heritage Architect: RH Partnership Architects To view the gallery, simply click on an image. Once open you can also run a slide show of all gallery images for the Buildings Projects section. Similar projects