St Mary's Church Eardisland, Hereford
The conservation and repair of the Burlisson & Grylls East Window
Conservation Architect: Lesley Lloyd
The Story :
St. Mary's Church in Eardisland, Herefordshire, is noted as being one of the most outstanding buildings in the county and is Grade I listed, being of national significance. There is certainly no questioning the antiquity of the building. The Nave was built in the 1100s and the Tower and Chancel followed in the 1300s. The Tower collapsed in 1728 and the one that stands on the site today was rebuilt in 1760. An extensive restoration of the church was undertaken in 1864 under Henry Curzon, an architect out of London, costing some £2,000 (£86,000 by today's standards).
Following identification of severe weathering and delamination of the masonry to the East Window by conservation architect Lesley Lloyd of Tenbury Wells, Recclesia were awarded the contract to carry out the conservation and restoration work to the stonework, the stained glass window and the wrought iron ferramenta. All of the work was carried out in-house by Recclesia, including the restoration of the 1901 Burlisson and Grylls stained glass window and ferramenta at the glass studio and metal workshop in Chester. The window incorporates a piece of medieval glass which was reused by the maker in this window and provided the basis for some of the design work. The window is a stunning example of this makers work.
Before any work was carried out to the window, Recclesia were first commissioned to thoroughly investigate the condition of the stained glass and produce a report detailing the issues and the proposed remedial conservation work. The report was produced to ensure that informed decisions were made about the approach to the treatment of the window and that all parties involved in the project, including the client, the Church Commissioners and the DAC were satisfied with the proposals. The report followed the guidelines set out by the Church Building Council for conservation reports and encompassed everything from the history of the window, the context of its history in relation to the church building, a detailed assessment of its condition, conservation proposal, recording processes and conservation techniques following CVMA guidelines.
Following acceptance of the report, the entire window, including the ferramenta, was carefully removed back to the studio by Recclesia’s stained glass specialists. The window had been previously pointed into the stonework using extraordinarily hard cement mortar which had caused quite significant damage to the external face of the masonry, meaning that its removal had to be carried out very carefully to ensure that the stonework was not unduly damaged again. The craftsmen and women at the glass studio began the conservation treatments, repairs and gentle cleaning whilst the second phase of site-work began to address the problems with the masonry.
The approach taken was one of minimum intervention, meaning that the emphasis was on the retention of as much of the old masonry as possible whilst employing several different techniques to ensure that all of the problems were properly addressed. From the scaffolding, a detailed inspection was made by Recclesia and Lesley Lloyd during which a thorough schedule of repairs was drawn up detailing the way in which each section would be repaired. Inevitably, some elements of the masonry were candidates for replacement, but this was done in small sections rather than replacing the entire stones. The type of stone selected for the new sections of tracery was the Mottled Hollington from Staffordshire Stone which was similar in consistency, porosity, appearance and weathering characteristics to the original stone used. Recclesia masons carefully propped and cut out the irreparable sections of tracery and inserted new replacement sections to varying depths.
Other sections, although eroded, were considered to be in fair enough condition to keep rather than replace. These were repaired involving a very delicate pinning technique to hold the masonry together, particularly in areas where small-scale delamination had begun to present itself. Small indent repairs were also carried out in some places, and the weather-shedding details of the masonry cusps re-formed using a lime mix made up by Limegreen Ltd based on their analysis of the masonry and the original pointing mix.
With the masonry work complete, it was time for the stained glass to be brought back and reinstated into its more stable home. The ferramenta was tipped in stainless steel at the intersection with the masonry to ensure that any future corrosion and expansion would not damage the stonework and were painted in black using a modern three-coat paint system. The metalwork was reinstated into the original holes in the masonry using lime mortar and the stained glass offered back up to it. The glass was pointed into the masonry again using lime mortar and kept under its shrouding throughout the week-long installation to allow for a grand reveal at the end!
Serena Askew of the PCC was extremely impressed with Recclesia’s work. “We are delighted with the way it has all gone, and I think a lot of people enjoyed watching the process. We would like to say thank you to all your staff for their work - it was a pleasure having them around.” Conservation architect Lesley Lloyd was also pleased with the finished conservation project saying, “this was a challenging project, made more so by the fact that poor previous repair work had been done in the past and covered up – but the work went well and the PCC were very pleased with Recclesia”.