Scaffold removal: November 2015

Scaffold removal: November 2015

Scaffolding on the iconic West Front will come down this week, as the £200,000 restoration of St Edmund's Chapel is unveiled.

Urgent restoration was needed to the Chapel, in the corner of the image screen, after centuries of battering from wind and rain.

The work has included a new roof and rain water goods, glazing conservation repairs and a restoration of the stonework, including completely new figurative carvings, using the same local Salcombe and Beer stone as the original. It has taken 18 months for the Cathedral's newly extended team of five stonemasons to complete and three of them have won a national award from the Duke of Gloucester awards scheme for the quality of their work on the Chapel.

Chris Sampson, the Cathedral's clerk of works, said it was the first time in years that the Cathedral's stonemasons had tackled the entire job, from start to finish.

He said: "The five yearly inspection of the condition of the Cathedral carried out by the architect in 2011 highlighted many areas of urgent attention, the Cathedral is now in a programme of works to keep on top of the endless cycle of decay. With help and support from many associated groups we now have a very capable and dedicated team of stonemasons directly employed by the Cathedral capable of delivering award winning work cost effectively. We are also committed to investing in the team and continued enhancement of their skills, all good news for the care of the building while it is in our stewardship."

The scaffolding will come down this week, giving visitors an unimpeded view of the magnificent medieval West Front – at least for the next five months. Next March, further work has to be done to conserve the three tiers of carved figures on the West Front image screen, which together represent the Kingdom of Heaven. Centuries ago, the weather wore away the paint that once have decorated the carved figures, but now some of the stone is in a dangerous state of decay, and the stonemasons will undertake detailed work to try and halt further erosion.

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