St Mary’s Church, Beverley – Consultancy

St Mary’s Church in Beverley has its origins in the early 12th Century and was substantially expended through the 14th and 15th Centuries. It was built as the people’s church and the size and richness of decoration reflect the importance of the Town of Beverley in the Middle Ages. The church is Grade I listed and part of the Greater Churches Group.
The biggest challenge facing St Marys is the rapidly decaying stonework which has left the building looking disfigured and unloved (which is far from the truth) as well as allowing the weather in through holes in the window tracery and the risk of ongoing stone falls. We have been working with St Marys in preparing a ten-year programme to complete this work in several phases and in assisting with fundraising activities with the two churches one town organisation.

Read about “Two Churches one town” >

Stonework Phase 1 – North Nave Clerestory (“The Bosses Project”)

The first phase of stonework repairs to the North Nave Clerestory was part funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of a wider project, “The Bosses Project” which included research and interpretation of the 600+ carved roof bosses.
The work included repairs / replacement of pinnacles, dismantle and rebuilding of the parapet, removal of glazing for cleaning and conservation and reinstatement, extensive repairs to window tracery, replacement of eroded string courses and stone cleaning inside and out.
One of the important characteristics of St Mary’s is the extensive collection of carvings, however many of the external carvings have eroded away to northing, so a significant part of this project was how to replace the eroded label stops and high level “grotesque” carvings. Since there was no clues left as to what the carvings originally were, an ideas project was run with a local school and from this it was decided to focus on characters from the Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis, celebrating an important piece of 20th Century Christian literature (and picking up links with the rabbit carving inside which was said to have been the inspiration for Lewis Caroll for the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland). The designs and clay maquettes for the carvings were developed by artist Kibby Schaefer and the stone carvings were undertaken by various carvers.

See more information about “The Bosses Project” >

Stonework Phase 2 – South Nave Clerestory

The second phase of stonework repairs followed on from the first phase with part funding from a Covid 19 Cultural Recovery fund grant was similar to the first phase in terms of scope however the condition of the window stonework and glazing was found to be in a significantly worse condition than on the north side, requiring the complete dismantling of all the window tracery and a substantial number of replacement stones as well as the rebuilding of most of the leaded glazing panels. The work had to be carefully phased in order to meet the stringent conditions of the grant as well as to minimise the time the internal scaffolding was in place due to a number of weddings which were booked in.

The condition of the carvings on the south side of the nave was much better than on the north so there were fewer opportunities for replacement carvings, however there are eight label stops and one large carving which have eroded to nothing and will be replaced with carvings which celebrate the lives of influential women including Amy Johnson, Hilda Lyon, Mary Wollstonecraft, Marie Curie, Rosalind Franklin, Helen Sharman, Libby Lane and Ada Lovelace.

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