Natural Stone Awards 2000 - Woburn Abbey - Highly Commended in Restoration

Woburn Abbey is Listed Grade I. It is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Bedford. In 1747 the fourth Duke commissioned the architect Henry Flitcroft to rebuild the principal west range in the way it is seen to day. Work was carried out between 1747 and 1761 and cost £85,000.

The Abbey is built of local Totternhoe limestone with Portland limestone window surrounds and weatherings.

The central pavilion of the west front forms the focal point of the main west elevation and consists of a splendidly carved tympanum of Portland stone supported on four large ionic columns of Totternhoe stone.

The lines of the building are important to the classical design and overall appearance of the Abbey and the scheme for repairs was developed to ensure that that line was maintained.

The splendidly carved tympanum and remainder of the Portland stone was cleaned by Joe Walsh of Central Cleaning with a nebulous process using water only. This work removed decades of grime and pollution and exposed the fine detail of the carving.

Columns, built partly into the wall, were originally created from enormous stones of between 1.75m and 2m high. When they were made, Totternhoe was mined. Today it is quarried and stone of those dimensions is no longer available, so stones of three equal thicknesses were used to replace each one of the original stones.

The work involved dressing back the face of the original stone by 9.5mm to identify sound stone from that which had decayed. The decayed stone was cut out and replaced with new Totternhoe with a minimum depth of 100mm.

Iron cramps, some up to 3.6m long, had caused enormous damage to the stonework. The iron was replaced by stainless steel.

After fixing the new stone the whole surface was spun back to a smooth, even surface using different grades of abrasive pads - a job requiring considerable skill.

It had been hoped the columns could be spun back to a sound surface but close inspection showed there were many voids, stones had split and bulged from iron cramp damage and some earlier repairs had been carried out using thin stone which was hollow behind.

After careful survey it was decided the columns should be refaced. This required careful surveying and great skill by the masons to reproduce the entasis.

While the columns were tooled back on site, the replacement stones, each one weighing around 75kg, were produced in the workshop.

All the ashlar to the central pavilion and the north and south returns were worked back and decayed stone replaced.

Judges Comments - "Good stone colour match and extremely fine jointing in keeping with the original work produced in this restoration of the west front.  It has a superb overall effect".


Boden & Ward Stonemasons Ltd would like to thank the Stone Federation for granting Copyright permission to publish this article from their publication (Stone Federation Natural Stone Awards 2004 - Pg15)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT US ON T: 01327 349081 OR E: website@bodenandward.co.uk
YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED IN...
Natural Stone Awards 2010 - Ashridge Management College - Highly commended - Craftsmanship
Natural Stone Awards 2010 - Ashridge Management College - Highly commended - Craftsmanship
The most challenging task to overcome on this project was the rebuilding of the facade ashlar from the roof line.  The fact that the original...
FIND OUT MORE
Natural Stone Awards - 2010 - Ashridge Management College - Highly Commended in Restoration
Natural Stone Awards - 2010 - Ashridge Management College - Highly Commended in Restoration
Ashridge Management College - this phase of work involved the restoration of the facade to the east elevation, returns and bases of the chimneys...
FIND OUT MORE
Natural Stone Awards - 2010 - The Pytchley Gates - Overstone - Commended in Restoration
Natural Stone Awards - 2010 - The Pytchley Gates - Overstone - Commended in Restoration
The Pytchley Gates are a Grade II listed monument.  They are a very fine example of a decorative classical gateway which originally stood at the...
FIND OUT MORE

SEND US AN ENQUIRY