Cliveden Conservation was appointed by the National Trust to repair the limestone floor of the Mussenden Temple located in the stunning surroundings of Downhill Demesne near Castlerock in county Londonderry. The Temple was originally built in 1785 as a summer library and its architecture was inspired by the Temple of Vesta in Tivoli, near Rome.
Summary of the conservation work carried out
The floor of the temple is made of imported limestone from Portland in Dorset; the conservation team estimated that 50% of its floor slabs appeared to be original. The stones are very thin and sit almost directly over the brick vault below. Movement in the mortar underneath and impact damage had caused some of the slabs to break and shatter.
Treatment was required to repair the cracks and stabilise the floor slabs. Work was also required to reduce the ‘saw marks’ in the surface of some of the replacement stones to match the original finely rubbed work and reduce the accretions built up on the surface.
To carry out the repairs, Cliveden Conservation used traditional materials and mortars with carefully selected sand and Portland stone aggregate to match the original stone. Large syringes were used to help any replacement grout penetrate and get into the finer cracks. A small number of stones which were deemed unstable and beyond repair were replaced with Portland limestone.
In order to reduce or remove the saw marks, the team used small variable speed orbital polishers to carefully abrade the surface. Fractures and fissures were cleaned using a small micro steam cleaner to remove dust and debris.
Cliveden Conservation successfully repaired the Mussenden Temple floor helping to secure the future of this much treasured building and popular tourist attraction
Principal Conservation Contractor:
Cliveden Conservation (Bath Workshop)
Advisory and material analysis | Stonework
What we did
“The Mussenden Temple is one of the most photographed and iconic buildings that the Trust cares for in Northern Ireland and as such we felt that the floor inside the Temple, that receives over 50k visitors per year, was showing rapid signs of degeneration. It was our aim to restore and not replace, and we are grateful to Cliveden and their excellent team of conservators for their work and effort in the restoration process.”
Michael Allen, Visitor Experience Manager