Cliveden Conservation was engaged by Windsor Parish Church to carry out the cleaning and repair of the Topham Foot monument, a beautifully carved bust created by Peeter Gaspar Scheemakers the Younger*, known for his bust of Shakespeare and other memorials in Westminster Abbey.
Summary of the conservation work carried out
Layers of dust, soot and black residue caused by air pollution from the nearby road were removed from the monument in stages. This involved dry cleaning, using smoke sponges to remove more resistant dirt, removing old layers of wax with organic solvents and wet cleaning.
Cleaning trials were carried out using various techniques and materials including cold and warm deionised water with the addition of non-ionised detergents, different types of latex poultices and gels, steam cleaning and mild abrasives for the most contaminated areas of marble elements.
Loose decorative marble elements were stabilised. Original metal fixings were located using a metal detector. Exposed iron clamps and dowels were cleaned of rust and given a protective coat. During works, it was discovered that the carved bust was installed on the monument using just plaster and a wooden peg! This was replaced with a security fixing to safeguard the sculpture.
Casting plaster was used to re-point open joints and reconstruct missing sections of decorative moulding. Repairs were retouched to blend with the surrounding marble. The non-legible section of the inscription plaque and decorative painted coat of arms were also restored.
Microcrystalline wax was applied to the marble elements of the monument to enhance the appearance of the finely carved detailing and provide long-term protection from air pollution.
Conservation work has improved the appearance of the monument and its overall condition. All the unstable elements have now been restored. During works, conservators solved the mystery of the missing marble lids of the urns on the Topham Foot monument. The lids, which have now been returned to their rightful home, were found on another monument in the church.
Windsor Parish Church of St John the Baptist
Decorative arts | Stonework
“Earlier this year Kris and Basia Zykubek on behalf of Cliveden Conservation carried out the cleaning, conservation and restoration of the Topham Foote memorial which is situated in the main entrance porch of Windsor Parish Church. The work was carried out in an extremely professional manner and the church was extremely happy with the way the work was undertaken and completed. We would have no hesitation in using their services again on other memorials in the church.”
Michael Harding, Churchwarden, Windsor Parish Church of St John the Baptist