WREN300 Metal Conservation Evening Wednesday 12th July 2023

8th June 2023

Metal Conservation Evening: Jean Tijou – Wren’s Iron Man and: Notre-Dame de Paris – the Iron Giant within

Date: Wednesday 12th July 2023 (6pm-8pm)
Location: St Vedast, 4 Foster Lane, London EC2V 6HH

Join Alex Coode and Maxime L’Heritier for a fascinating evening telling the story of the decorative Baroque ironwork of Sir Christopher Wren’s buildings and the present day restorative ironwork on Notre-Dame de Paris.

The partnership between Jean Tijou and Wren on many projects in the City, and elsewhere, marked a radical shift in decorative ironwork in England. Royal patronage by William and Mary, including celebrated work at Hampton Court and Kensington Palace, created a fashion for highly decorative Baroque decoration and a technical flair that had largely been absent before his arrival. The appetite for decorative ironwork generated at this time lasted for centuries and the tremendous volume of work gave training in the new forms and standards to a generation of English smiths, who went on to develop their own styles and become famous in their own right. While relatively little is known about Tijou’s life, his accomplishments and legacy stand as a testament to his profound effect on British ironworkand its place in architecture.

The fire that devastated Notre-Dame de Paris revealed a cathedral reinforced with an iron frame, the first cathedral in the 12th Century to massively use iron as a building material. As the cathedral is rebuilt the latest technology enables those damaged iron supports to be investigated to acquire knowledge about medieval construction techniques and the skills that went into building the cathedral. Discoveries are being made about the origins and the quality of the metals used by those original builders and the effect the fire had on the iron’s properties.

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Alex Coode is a specialist blacksmith-conservator and runs Coode Conservation Partnership, a dedicated ironwork conservation and restoration service for the UK heritage industry. Alex is a skilled provider of repousse and is an Associate of the Worshipful Company of Blacksmiths.

Maxime L’Héritier is a lecturer in Medieval History at the University of Paris 8 in the Archaeology and Sciences of Antiquity laboratory. His research interests include archaeometallurgy and the history of construction. He works in particular on the production and circulation of metals in medieval times. Maxime is the author of an archaeology thesis on the theme of “the use of iron in Gothic architecture”. Since 2019, he has coordinated the “Metal” working group of the Notre-Dame CNRS/Ministry of Culture scientific project.