Thursday, 16 July 2015

Conservation On Chapel Woodwork

Our Conservator John Wynn-Griffiths, talks about one of the ongoing challenges the sea environment causes on the Farne Islands and our need to undertake some remedial conservation works.
© The National Trust

"One of our conservation tasks this year is looking in more detail at the woodwork in St Cuthbert’s Chapel on the Inner Farne. This is the suprising home of some important panelling and pews. Originally made for Durham Cathedral in the 17th century, they were moved to the island in the late 19th century as part of a restoration of the Chapel. When you walk in from the brightness outside, it takes a while for your eyes to adjust to the gloom inside the Chapel. When you can see properly the Gothic woodwork is a complete surprise.

© The National Trust

"It's when you look carefully you start to spot the problems. The iron nails holding decorative bits in place have rusted through and these bits are dropping off, to be carefully stored of course. Damp is beginning to show on the pew backs. As always with such projects, things are not straightforward. Damp is always going to be a chronic problem in a small unheated Chapel on a small island off the North East coast. And of course the island has limited electricity so easy solutions are out.

© The National Trust

"Towards the end of last month I brought several of the National Trust’s expert advisers across from the mainland in a small boat to visit the Chapel. This was the first time we have brought together the Trust’s experts to try to find a solution to some of the Chapel's conservation challenges. And with such an unusual building we will need to come up with something equally unusual."

John will be updating with progress on this project over the coming months

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