Cliveden Conservation to restore one of Stowe’s lost treasures

6th March 2017

Cliveden Conservation has been given the challenge of recreating the Gothic Cross at Stowe as part of the National Trust’s programme to return the gardens back to their 18th-century glory by restoring its lost monuments.

The fine Gothic Cross was originally built in 1814 from Coade stone as a memorial and was three tiers high. Sadly this historically significant monument was destroyed by a falling tree in the 1950s.

Extensive research by Cliveden Conservation’s Stone Section and the National Trust was carried out due to lack of historical evidence and structural remains of the monument. Apart from the fragments of the cross discovered in the undergrowth in the 1970s little else existed.

Having carried out a detailed survey of the remaining pieces of the cross Cliveden Conservation’s team of experts are now in the process of recreating sections of the Gothic Cross in new Coade stone. A 3D CAD (computer animated design) model has also been created to interpret the original structure.

“We are combining craft with modern science and technologies,” says Nicholas Barnfield, Architectural stone and sculpture conservator, Cliveden Conservation. “Fragments of the cross have been scanned and inserted into 3D CAD drawings. By forensically using those fragments, together with only one drawn reproduction, we have successfully managed to recreate the Gothic Cross as an image. As a result of these drawings, we can model and recreate the plaster patterns to produce the moulds which are then fired in a kiln to produce the Coade stone.”

The reinstatement of the Gothic Cross is just one of the projects within the National Trust’s ‘Landscape Restoration Programme’ to restore Stowe’s landscape garden which is famous for its unique statuary and awe-inspiring temples.