Nobody likes to see a building as magnificent as Lincoln Cathedral covered in scaffolding.
Unfortunately this is an essential part of the never ending restoration challenge that we face.
Lincoln is one of only a few cathedrals with its own workforce dedicated to the building and preserving traditional craft skills. This enables us to keep our costs to the minimum, but is also essential given the never ending task before us. We set out on this page the projects currently being undertaken by each trade, together with an outline of the plan for the next ten years or so derived from the 2012 Quinquennial Inspection Report by the Cathedral Architect.
The main focus of our mason’s work at present is the turrets which frame the west front of the Cathedral.
Following a hard frost in 2009, decorative stone broke away from the turrets posing a hazard to public safety. A specialist team of abseiling stonemasons surveyed the condition of the turrets. They discovered structural cracks and crumbling areas of stonework which required urgent attention.
It became apparent that a substantial amount of repair work was necessary to keep pace with the needs of the building and to protect the future of the West Front. This led to an immediate revision of the restoration plan for the great church, and a five year-long programme of restoration work was devised for the two great turrets totaling £2.5million GBP (around $4million USD).
The great West Front of Lincoln Cathedral is widely recognised as one of the finest historic façades in England. Its grace and beauty attracts and inspires visitors to Lincoln. The West Front comprises a beautifully detailed Norman centre surrounded by outstanding Early English Gothic embellishments. In the early 13th century, the turrets were constructed at either side of the frontage. Stretching from ground to more than half the height of the Cathedral frame the entrance. Carved detailing on the turrets is typical of gothic architecture. Tiers of arcading are interspersed with richly carved capitals and embossed string courses. Each turret is surmounted by an octagonal pinnacle which has delicately carved finials as decoration. Given their significance to the structural integrity of the building and to the history of gothic architecture, it became imperative to restore the turrets.
Work on the southwest turret commenced in 2011 and is continuing. Some 250 stones had to be prepared to replace those that has decayed. Restoration of the northwest turret is scheduled to begin in 2013.
Restoration of the turrets involves:
- Saving original stonework using mortar repairs
- Cleaning stonework using the appropriate conservation techniques
- Replacing a large number of stones, many of which requiring carving to follow the decorative pattern of the existing mouldings and capitals.
Once the work on the turrets is complete, attention will move to the East End, then to the Chapter House and on to the three great towers in about twenty five years time.
Carpenters and Leadworkers
The roofs of the Cathedral demand attention less frequently than does the stone, but there is much to do. Currently the retrochoir south aisle roof has scaffolding around it and this will be the focus for both teams this summer. The lead is failing and there are leaks which are affecting the roof timbers.
The roof work last winter on the north east transept gutter was technically very challenging requiring complicated propping to allow major tie beams to be repaired. The gutter was formed to a new profile and releaded.
The new focus is on the restoration of the medieval lancet windows. This is placing highly technical demands on the team, with complex questions on the most appropriate cleaning techniques. Two of the panels of glass have been taken out to enable the development of the policy for the conservation, cleaning and new protection of this important medieval glass.
The whole team
One project involving all disciplines is the work to the two doors either side of the west front. The perpendicular windows have been restored and are magnificent. The thresholds now need to be lowered and the doors, each weighing a number of tons, extended.
Our architect and engineer wrote this paper for the Celebration of Lincoln Engineering held over the late May Bank Holiday weekend in 2103, and which sheds light on the engineering challenge of the building.
How you can help
You can find some of the are many ways in which you can support this work by following this LINK.Support Our Cathedral
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