ICON Talk: Gold shines new light on Elizabeth Tower

9th February 2022

Cliveden Conservation’s Senior Project Manager, Alexandra Miller, is delivering a talk ‘Gold shines new light on Elizabeth Tower’ as part of ICON’s Gilding & Decorative Surfaces Group AGM on 9th February (6.30pm – 8pm).  Participants will hear more about the painstaking works carried out by the team to reinstate Charles Barry’s pared back original 1856 clock face scheme of bare stone, Prussian blue and gold leaf. 

Alexandra Miller will talk through each stage of this remarkable journey from removing historic paint layers and discovering the historic decorative schemes to the final flourishes of redecorating and gilding the iconic clock faces of Elizabeth Tower and its famous cast iron roof.

She will explain how the full stratigraphic and historic paint chip analysis from the stone surrounds, metal dials and hands of each clock face led to uncovering the original Charles Barry decorative scheme – vastly different to the black and gold scheme from the 1980s.

Alexandra will also discuss the process of stripping, cleaning and preparing the stonework before re-painting and re-gilding the new decorative scheme on the iconic clockfaces and the magnificent metal roof.

Alexandra, who has 18 years’ experience working in building restoration, specialising in conservation and the technical and historical applications of traditional decorative finishes and paints, feels the Elizabeth Tower project has been a life changing experience.

‘I think I speak for many of my peers on this project when I say this will always be one of the most humbling and career defining projects we have been fortunate to be part of. The restoration of Elizabeth Tower comes around once a generation and I am grateful that Cliveden Conservation was able to care for the most important feature of the exterior – the iconic clock faces.’

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Image credit: Lumen Photography Ltd / Simon Camper