2014 © Skillington Workshop

    St Alban’s Cathedral – Restoration of the Shrine of St Amphibalus

    October 01, 2019 by Tony in 0 comments
    Shrines were focal points of medieval cathedrals, housing relics of saints and attracting pilgrims from far and wide to pray for forgiveness. Most English shrines were severely damaged or destroyed during the Dissolution and Reformation, as was the case at St Albans where the shrine of St Alban himself (dating to circa 1302-8) and of St Amphibalus (circa 1350). The fragments of the broken up shrines were used to block up an archway, to be re-discovered during George Gilbert Scott’s restoration of the Cathedral in 1872.   The shrine of St Alban, behind the High Altar, was restored in the early 1990s. That to St. Amphibalus – the early Christian priest credited with converting St Alban – remained looking rather forlorn in the North Ambulatory, where it had been reconstructed (for the second time) in the early 1900s. Where the original Totternhoe clunch or Purbeck marble was missing crude brick infill was used, and recent investigations had shown that the reconstruction was not altogether accurate. What carvings do survive though are of the highest quality and retain extensive medieval colour.   Early in 2019 Skillingtons won by competitive tender the contract for the restoration of the shrine, and its rebuilding […]

    Worksop Priory Gatehouse Shrine

    October 20, 2016 by Tony in 0 comments
    The original Worksop Priory, an Augustinian monastery founded in the early 12th century, was dissolved on the orders of King Henry VIII in 1539 and many of the former monastic buildings have long since disappeared. However, the nave of the church and the 14th century gatehouse were saved. The Gatehouse, built in about 1330, was used as guest accommodation for visitors to the Priory and provided food and shelter for travellers. The surviving nave is now used as the parish church while the gatehouse was, for a time in the 17th century, used as a school but has fallen victim to vandalism in recent years. It was added to the Buildings at Risk Register in 1998 The Gatehouse, a Grade 1 listed building, includes a chapel built in the mid 14th century with a shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. It has an entrance on either side enabling pilgrims to pass through and is thought to be the last surviving example of a medieval walkthrough shrine in England. Work to the shrine began in October 2015 and included: consolidation of weathered stone and statuary, stone replacement and cleaning, re-pointing and mortar repairs. In addition the shrine was given a new […]

    St James’ Church, Dry Doddigton

    October 20, 2016 by Tony in 0 comments
    The Church of St James in Dry Doddington, Lincolnshire, dates from the early part of the 12th century with later alterations in the late 13th and early 14th centuries including the addition of the west tower. It was built from local limestone, known as Blue Lias, with limestone ashlar dressings. The tower, topped with a spire, is locally famous for its lean which villagers estimate to be between 4.9 and 5.1 degrees meaning it leans more than the significantly more famous Italian tower in Pisa which can only boast 3.97 degrees! The church underwent significant restoration in 1876-7 when the roof was raised to its present level but the tower is thought not to have moved until the late 19th or early 20th century. It was underpinned in 1919 and does not appear to have moved any further since then. Due to the church’s exposed position in the village it has suffered from the effects of the weather and extensive conservation work was needed on the tower and spire. Work started in March 2015 and was completed later that year. In keeping with the original materials used, Blue Lias walling stone was sourced from Somerset which is the nearest geological […]

    Harlaxton Manor – Lion Terrace

    August 12, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    The Lion Terrace is a feature to the rear of Harlaxton Manor, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, laid out initially in the 1830s and 40s as part of Gregory Gregory’s scheme – then known as the ‘Baroque Terrace’. It was added to in the early 20th century, including the addition of the two large marble lions to the front, when it became known as the Lion Terrace.   The Ancaster Hard White limestone had deteriorated over the years, much of the low parapet copings having been previously replaced in a gritstone.   When the project attracted a generous offer of grant aid from English Heritage one of the conditions was that the gritstone was replaced with the much more appropriate Ancaster stone. This project went out to tender initially in 2009, when the contract was won by another contractor. They went into administration part way into the works leaving much of the Terrace dismantled with virtually no documentation! Skillingtons won the tender to complete the works – which commenced with making light of what had already been done. The works were carried out during 2010-11.   Supply of good Ancaster Hard White presented challenges for this job as we were dependant on […]

    Derbyshire Farmhouse

    June 12, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    Skillingtons don’t only work on grand country houses! As an example, during early 2014 we completely re-rendered the exterior of a privately owned listed Georgian house near Mansfield in Derbyshire. We worked with the owner to advise regarding the removal of the existing cement render and the provision of scaffold access before we re-plastered all walls and chimneys in three-coat NHL3.5 hydraulic lime and sand render reinforced with goat hair. We then decorated the 400m2 of new plaster in four coats of casein limewash.   Contract Value: Approximately £20K Client: Private owner Architect: n/a Similar projects St Alban’s Cathedral – Restoration of the Shrine of St Amphibalus Shrines were focal points of medieval cathedrals, housing relics of saints and attracting... Read more! Worksop Priory Gatehouse Shrine The original Worksop Priory, an Augustinian monastery founded in the early 12th... Read more! St James’ Church, Dry Doddigton The Church of St James in Dry Doddington, Lincolnshire, dates from the early part of the... Read more! Harlaxton Manor – Lion Terrace The Lion Terrace is a feature to the rear of Harlaxton Manor, near Grantham, Lincolnshire, laid... Read more!

    Stoke Rochford – South Lodge

    June 12, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    South Lodge at Stoke Rochford Hall, Lincolnshire, was built in 1834 adjacent to the new main entrance to the park, designed by the Grantham architect Cornelius Sherborne, and built out of local Ancaster Hard White limestone. As part of a refurbishment programme by Stoke Rochford Estates, Skillingtons were asked to advise on how best to repair the columns supporting the projecting gable. These had deteriorated badly at low level, together with their bases, due to soluble salts and damp.   After consultation with all parties, including the Conservation Officer, we agreed to replace the lower half of each column and its base. This was quite a tricky operation due to the need to provide temporary support to the gable above, and the desire to achieve a very tight and almost invisible joint in the column shafts.   At the same time we carried out numerous masonry repairs to the walls and copings of the Lodge, re-pointed where necessary in lime mortar, and carried out a light general clean using the DOFF machine (a high pressure superheated steam cleaner) and more localised cleaning to remove heavier deposits using a TORC machine (a wet abrasive system, highly controllable and very sensitive, using […]

    Chiswick House

    May 21, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    Chiswick House is one of the finest Palladian villas in England, designed and built by Lord Burlington in the 1720s. In public ownership since 1929, the house has fine interiors and still houses a great number of works of art, as well as having several fine ceiling paintings by William Kent. Therefore, the proper upkeep of the building is of the utmost importance.   Skillingtons won the main contract for roofing and guttering repairs combined with making good damage to external render and redecoration by competitive tender, carrying out the works in 2012. Due to the importance of the interiors a full temporary roof was required by the client, and the management of this, and of security issues raised by having such extensive scaffolding, with a leaded cupola, in an isolated location, was one of the challengers successfully dealt with by Skillingtons team on the project. The exterior render, including the run and embellished cornice, had damage associated with gutter failure, all of which was made good using hydraulic lime repairs. The gutters were re-done, including adjustment to levels, outlets, and steps, in tern-coated stainless steel. Minor repairs were carried out to the roof slates, and the render re-decorated in […]

    Pontefract Castle

    May 21, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    Pontefract Castle was started in about 1170, being progressively improved and enlarged until being slighted in the Civil War in 1649. During 2011-12 Skillingtons were commissioned to undertake conservation masonry repairs to the Gascoigne Tower and Sally Port. The Gascoigne Tower, built in the 12th or 13th century as a mural tower, is traditionally linked to the imprisonment of Richard II, in particular the undercroft chamber which forms the main part of the surviving ruin of this section.   The construction is of a combination of local magnesian limestone and sandstone, for which suitable replacements had to be sourced to allow repairs to be carried out. The ruins had been re-pointed and in places rebuilt in a very hard cement mortar and much of the work involved the careful removal of this without disturbing stones that were clearly still in situ.   Trials were carried out to establish a good match to the original construction lime mortar and the masonry was duly consolidated, re-pointed and rough-racked using these closely matched mortars. As part of the stabilisation works the collapsed vault to the base of the Gascoigne Tower was re-constructed over a giant wooden former. This was complicated by the need […]

    East Barkwith Church

    May 21, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    St. Mary’s at East Barkwith, near Wragby in Lincolnshire is a fine medieval church with extensive 19th century restorations. The masonry is mainly locally quarried ironstone green and sandstone, with finer dressed stone coming from Ancaster. The roofs are of green and blue Westmorland slate except for the tower roof which is of lead. The condition of the building fabric had been deteriorating for many years. The tower pinnacles and parapet had become unstable and some time ago had been taken down for safe-keeping. The roof had several leaks and flashings, parapet gutters and cast iron rainwater goods as well as the drains were all in various states of disrepair.   In 2011 Skillingtons won by competitive tender an English Heritage grant-aided repair contract involving complete re-slating; overhaul of the beadwork, rainwater goods and drains; and masonry repairs not only to the body of the church at high level but also to the tower.   The slating involved re-use of as many of the existing slates as possible, using new Westmorlands to make up the shortfall. Much of the parapet ashlar had to be renewed (in Great Tew stone), whereas the pinnacles and copings could be repaired using Ancaster Hard […]

    Bentley Hall

    May 02, 2014 by Tony in 0 comments
    Bentley Hall is a grade II* 17th century house in Derbyshire, in private ownership. In September 2006 it was gutted by fire leaving large parts of the house structurally unsafe and with a collapsed roof, not to mention saturated with water. The insurers liaised with English Heritage, who recommended that Skillingtons were bought on board to deal with emergency works to several very fine decorative plaster ceilings of circa 1660, which had remarkably largely survived the fire but were critically unstable.   Further investigation revealed that a canted stone bay to the front of the house was on the point of collapse, and we were asked to partially dismantle and rebuild this as well as carry out emergency works to the ceilings.   One thing led to another, and we ended up successfully tendering for the management contract for the complete repair and renovation of the property. This complex project was finally completed in July 2008, our contract value being well in excess of £1M.   All stonework, brickwork and plasterwork, and much of the structural timberwork was carried out by our own employees, with scaffolding, roofing works, new carpentry, glazing and all M&E work being sub-contracted. We were particularly […]