Sunday, 22 February 2015

WW1 memorial and the Church of All Saints with Holy Trinity

Earlier this week I popped along to the Church of All Saints with Holy Trinity, often referred to as the Parish Church, to see what had been happening with the moving of the war memorial, for which a local group successfully obtained an Heritage Lottery Fund grant, and to listen to the conservators' story.

It was a pretty miserable evening, raining and a bit chilly, but the atmosphere inside the church was warm and inviting, and by the time I got there people had already been helping themselves to tea, coffee, biscuits or wine, and were busy chatting amongst themselves, with the organisers and with the conservators.

The company chosen to undertake the work were Sally Strachey Historic Conservation, a brilliant team involved in the conservation of historic buildings, monuments and sculptures. Although based in Wells, Somerset, the conservators travel the length and breadth of the country, breathing new life into neglected, damaged and sad structures.

Introductions over, Lisa, from SSHC, told us about how the memorial was being moved, how it was being cleaned, how it was being supported and so on. She stressed the delicateness of the Chellaston alabaster figures, the thinness of the Swithland slate (at 15mm, very thin) and how she and her colleagues waited for the memorials to speak to them, before doing any of these things. She talked of the cramps that held the memorial together, she talked about previous restorations and moves (which luckily hadn't used iron pieces, but had used some hard-to-remove materials to ensure the memorial never moved again), she talked of using white spirit to clean the delicate alabaster, and regaled us with tales of James, one of her colleagues, making the wall fit the memorial by chiselling away at it, whilst dressed head-to-toe in protective clothing.

When the talk was over we were eager to chat again with the conservators, spend time looking at the memorial and sculptures with more awe, and taking a few snaps. I was very surprised to learn that although the work had only started on the Monday evening, they were expecting to be finished by the end of Friday! If you want to keep up-to-date with their work, SSHC are on facebook.

The organisers have taken photographs throughout the process, and below are mine from the event. As a trial, in order to help the page load more quickly, I've tried to compress them a bit, but this does affect the quality.

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