Lincoln is one of only a few Cathedrals in England to have its own workforce dedicated to the conservation of the building. There are five craft teams: Stonemasonry and Conservation; Glazing; Carpentry/Joinery; Leadwork; Domus (Engineering and Maintenance). The Department has its own Archivist and is supported by a small office team.
Stonemasonry and Conservation
The Stonemasonry Team are responsible for the running of the Cathedral Quarry, extracting stone to use on the Cathedral and the Close. The team restore and repair brick or stone features by taking measurements and templets then reproducing replacements by cutting and carving stones by hand to match the original in the workshop. They are also responsible for other wet trades such as pointing and plastering.
Stone conservation begins with a full survey which produces a detailed document showing all the details of the stone, enabling us to carry out an archaeological survey. This then shows the types of mortar and stone, evidence of decoration, previous repairs, scaffolding evidence and other materials i.e. metals and wood. Then the hands-on conservation starts, which includes dissolving the black pollution crust, abrasive cleaning and a dry system using compressed air and a finer abrasive powder, which is only used on sculpture. The final stage is to carry out colour-matched mortar repairs and final recording.
The Glazing Department is responsible for the conservation and preservation of the more than 720 plain and historic stained glass windows.
All of the preliminary research of developing the digital documentation, cleaning and protective glazing system has been completed on the medieval glass. One of the lancets below the Bishops Eye has been removed from site and the glass is presently being recorded and documented. Once the pre-conservation documentation and damage analysis has been completed the glass will be cleaned. This will take time since the thick weathering crusts and pollutants on the medieval glass are extremely hard and complex to remove. Only after the glass has been cleaned is the window ready for the hands on bench conservation. In the meantime, the timber frame and the historic ferramenta still await conservation which will be later on in the programme.
The Joinery Department is a diverse team that work on the Cathedral and Close House properties. They work on projects ranging from large complex structural concerns, including the roof of the Cathedral which in constant need of repair and restoration, to basic labouring and repairs on fine antique furniture. For the roof they preserve the wood where possible and repair or replace the original wood beams and also do all the pre-paints and general maintenance of the estate properties.
The joiners use a wide variety of hand tools in their day to day work, including carving chisels. Some of the tools are even home-made, adapting more conventional tools for the specialised work required from the team.
The Lead Workers help repair and restore the roof. The lead is stripped off the roof with a hammer and hacking knife and once it has been melted down it is recast in to sheets and then rolled for transportation. Each roll can weigh between forty and one hundred kilos. The sheets are unrolled and formed into either gutters or sheets for the roof and dressed by hand using lead dressers, bossing mallets and sticks and chase wedges. The tools are made from boxwood and lignum vitae. New and replacement downpipes and hopper heads are also made by hand. Oxyacetylene welding equipment is used to weld the joints and roof flashings.
The Domus Team maintain the Cathedral and its surrounds and are responsible for a range of tasks from ensuring the statutory health and safety checks are carried out on all the equipment to changing the light bulbs. Their work is very varied and twice a year they are here after midnight when the clocks need to be changed forward or backward.
The Works Department Archivist manages the records relating to work carried out on the fabric of the Cathedral and Close properties. Plans, drawings, photographs and reports dating from late 19th century are housed alongside extensive digital material generated by present day conservation and restoration projects.