Our early Church tower repair project for 2017.

Nov 10, 2016

We have been gearing up for next years early project on St George's four stage Church Tower at Hinton St George, Somerset. It is dated to 1485–95.

This will be a pure lime based conservation project with plenty of pointing and mortar repairs to match the Hamstone.

The tower is supported by full-height offset corner buttresses and has battlemented parapets with quatrefoil panels below merlons on the corner and intermediate pinnacles. The weathervane was added in 1756 by Thomas Bagley of Bridgwater. There is a hexagonal south-east corner stair turret. Stage 2 has small light on the north side and a statue niche on the south. All the faces on the two upper stages 2-light mullioned, transomed and traceried window under pointed arched labels, with pierced stone baffles. During earlier restoration work the parapet of the tower was examined and a stone was discovered with a carved date of 1731 which suggests that the decorative parapet may have been added then. The tracery on the north side has been marked out but never cut.

In general there is little sign of more than one phase of construction although repairs are evident.

Minerva repairs town bridge in Bradford on Avon

Oct 24, 2016

The Bradford on Avon town bridge, a Scheduled Ancient Monument, was damaged by the impact of a stolen vehicle in October 2016.

We managed the emergency works after the stones had been retrieved from the river bed. We were required to act quickly to reverse the image of the impact and keep the road open.
See further details here:

Pinnacles and Buttresses

Jun 14, 2013

Vaults, Pinnacles and Tile Repairs at Sherborne Abbey, Dorset.

Vaulting repairs Sherborne Abbey.

We have just completed a complicated 6 month project at Sherborne Abbey, known locally as the Cathedral of Dorset. Hamstone, that most beautiful of limestones showed its usual weaknesses, as it contains thin beds of less well cemented material and some small clay inclusions. These areas weather differentially to give weathered hamstone its characteristic furrowed appearance, but have lead later Victorian pinnacles to come apart due to the additional burden of it being bedded incorrectly.

Internally there were interesting problems securing parts of the shifting Lierne vaulting of the N and S aisles due to the weight of the tower and inadequate footings, thankfully now all resolved. The removal of hundreds of years worth of soot to the ribs and limewashing the webs completed the works. A large part of the works involved the removal of modern emulsion paint and redecoration with a homemade limewash. As the walls had not been allowed to breathe for many decades it will take some time before the moisture stored in the yard thick walls reduces to an acceptable level and residual staining disappears.

Industrial Archaeology

Dec 14, 2012

The limekilns at Vallis in Frome are of Victorian date and used for burning limestone to make quicklime for building and agricultural purposes.
Built into the side of a hillock, they comprise a circular pit about 3m in diameter and up to 4m in depth, in which the lime was fired using timber, charcoal or coal (from the Somerset Coalfields) as fuel. At the base of the pit there are drawholes or stokeholes, through which the fire was lit, fed, and the ashes and lime extracted. Mounds of now overgrown Victorian lime remain from their last firing.

Much of the structure of the 19th century kilns were in generally sound condition although there were areas which needed to be addressed in order to prevent more serious decay from creeping in. Once the surrounding tree growth was cleared we focused on two kilns.

Cavities were maintained in the core of the kilns for the resident greater horseshoe bat population.

Kiln 1. We introduced a water shedding hydraulic lime capping to the top of the cylinder, all adjacent walls were pointed and the fire brick lining rebuilt. We superficially packed out a large movement crack to an depth of 2 inches where we introduced access/exit points for the hibernating Bats and rebuild areas of the corbelled stonework at the apex of the arch

Kiln 2. Due to funding limitations we proposed to introduce a temporary water shedding terram (membrane) and turf capping to the top of the cylinder, although it would be more appropriate to repair and rebuild the top three courses as above along with all adjacent walls and to point & pack out the large movement crack in a similar bat friendly fashon, Areas of the corbeled stonework at the apex of the arch were rebuilt as well as the small collapsed area to the rear of the kiln.

Repointing & grouting was done using a suitable putty lime mortar guaged with a pozzolan (to achieve a quicker set) matched to the original & with hydraulic lime used for surface capping In general it was recommended that stonework that has totally failed in a position that affected the weathering elements of the kilns be replaced. Voids within the mass of the walls for example were filled with a gravity injected lime grout. Some trial areas were repointed using original lime found on site.

Summer work to the Little Church of St Mary, Lydiard Tregoze

Nov 7, 2012

This summer we have been kept busy at the ancient church of St Mary at Lydiard Tregoze, near Swindon. St Mary's is which chiefly notable for the interior richness of its contents, including the funereal monuments of the St John family, the historic furnishings, a wealth of 15th century wall decorations and remarkable stained glass.

Along with interior replastering and conservation, most of our work was repairing and rebuilding the masonry to the exterior chancel gable and parapets to prevent the ingress of moisture to the interior. Cintec ties were introduced to consolidate old fractures and the dormer windows were conserved. Management of rainwater was drastically improved with new leadwork, gutters and drainage.