St Albans Cathedral has a unique blend of architectural styles spanning over a thousand years and a rich history of restoration work. In 2015, a two-year programme of repairs to the West Front commenced to repair and protect the medieval stonework of the west porches, the surrounding 19th century masonry, the grand oak doors and the First World War memorial window. Cliveden Conservation were appointed by the Cathedral as principal contractor for the project.
Summary of the conservation work carried out
Despite recent repairs to the roof, water had penetrated and damaged the inside of the porches. Some of the problems had also stemmed from the controversial reconstruction of the West Front by Lord Grimthorpe in the late 19th century.
Cliveden Conservation worked alongside Richard Griffiths Architects to rectify the issues surrounding the Victorian rebuilding of the west front of the Cathedral when the Norman and medieval structure was last renovated. The cleaning of the whole façade provided an opportunity to repair, repoint and minimise the inherent deficiencies in the Victorian fabric.
Surveys and repairs to drainage channels and damaged internal guttering were carried out to address the damp and water ingress to the walls. New lead flashing and gutters were installed to allow the West Entrance porches to better cope with the weather.
Special attention was given to the three interior porches to clean the stone and replace unsightly pigeon prevention measures with unobtrusive wires and netting to blend in with the masonry. Structural work included pinning the cracks and filling open joints with lime mortar.
Carving repairs were also carried out to the foliate capitals and carved heads in the porches. On completion of the repairs, a scheme of tinted limewashing was undertaken in two tones to accentuate the tracery and carved details within the porches.
The doors to St Albans Cathedral were cleaned, repaired and painted red. The Great West Window, designed by Sir Ninian Comper, as a memorial to those who suffered in First World War, was also cleaned on both sides.
Cliveden Conservation successfully carried out the programme of cleaning and conservation to the medieval West Porches on time, to budget and to a very high standard. St Albans Cathedral received the St Albans Civic Society’s Trevelyan Prize Commendation for the cleaning and restoration of the Cathedral’s West Front at a special ceremony. Both Cliveden Conservation and Richard Griffiths Architects were recognised as part of this prestigious award for their exceptional conservation and restoration work on the project.
St Albans Cathedral
Principal Conservation Contractor:
Advisory and material analysis | Stonework
Awards & recognition
St Albans Civic Society’s Trevelyan Prize 2016
(Commendation) Cleaning and restoration of St Albans Cathedral’s West Front