Conservation of a Norman Capital

St John the Baptist Church in Stone near Aylesbury was built around AD1135 and is renowned for having one of the finest Norman fonts in the country

Project overview

Project overview
St John the Baptist Church in Stone near Aylesbury was built around AD1135 and is renowned for having one of the finest Norman fonts in the country. As part of the ongoing preservation of the church, Cliveden Conservation was appointed to repair the severely damaged Norman capital (12c).

Summary of the conservation work carried out
On closer inspection Cliveden Conservation discovered that the damage to the Norman capital had been caused by the kitchenette screen being fixed to the stonework and surrounding medieval wall. Previous repair works using very hard Portland cement, possibly carried out in the 1960’s, had also attributed to the state of the capital.

The clunch and the chalk used originally for carving the decorative capital, are one of the softest, porous and most permeable stones, whereas the Portland cement grouts and mortars used for previous repairs were much harder and less permeable than the original stone carving. The combination of using two materials with extreme properties had trapped moisture within the object.

The conservation treatment included dismantling all the loose fragments of the capital and carefully removing cementitious mortars and grout. All the vulnerable and fragile elements were then consolidated and stabilised with appropriate grouting techniques. The capital was rebuilt using the salvaged fragments, and any missing elements of the decorative moulding were reconstructed with the use of soft lime mortars.

Results
Cliveden Conservation succeeded in repairing the severely damaged Norman capital (12c). Appropriate materials have been used for the decorative stonework which will help preserve the medieval structure for years to come. Kris Zykubek ACR and Basia Zykubek who worked on the project were pleased with the results and enjoyed working next to a beautifully carved 12c font which they both greatly admired.

Project details

Client:

St John the Baptist Church

Principal Conservation Contractor:

Cliveden Conservation

Category:

Advisory and material analysis | Stonework

What we did

“We are absolutely delighted with the standard of work so lovingly carried out by Kris and Basia Zykubek on behalf of Cliveden Conservation. Having spent time in conversation with them it is clear that they have a real passion for their work. The kind words they expressed were most welcome, not only for the Capital they were conserving but also the rest of the church’s fabric, especially the baptismal font.”

Raymond Medhurst, Churchwarden

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