Important restoration works to protect Lincoln Cathedral continue despite the current challenging circumstances, thanks to its specialist in-house works department.
The West Front – often affectionally known as the face of the cathedral – has been receiving highly specialist conservation work to its important historical features, as part of a National Lottery Heritage Fund-backed project to restore the Cathedral and improve its visitor experience.
Lincoln Cathedral’s works department – a team of highly-skilled and specially-trained professionals - has, since 2016, been delivering the works and has racked up a staggering 93,000 working hours on the West Front alone.
As part of the works, the Gallery of Kings – a beautiful 14th century stone carving depicting eleven kings – is undergoing a twelve-month restoration programme, including high-tech yet gentle laser cleaning, structural and non-structural pinning repairs, and repairs to the masonry and mortars.
To enable the carving to be cleaned without being damaged, laser cleaning is used to remove carbonate and sulphate pollution that builds up on the surface of the stone over time, creating dark patches. This conservation technique allows the dirt to be removed without abrading the stone surface itself.
Different treatments are also employed by the works department team for the masonry and mortar repair work, with each area that requires attention being carefully assessed by the specialists and the appropriate method of restoration and conservation work being used.
These incredibly important conservation works will affirm the Gallery of Kings as one of the finest examples of a 14th century stone sculpture on any cathedral wall in the country – maintaining its remarkable condition given its age.
The Romanesque Frieze – an intricate, 12th century sculpture depicting a series of biblical narratives – is receiving the same laser cleaning and repair treatment, with identical copy carvings being produced for the Cathedral’s new exhibition centre, due to open later this year within the new visitor centre.
The final part of the five-year conservation programme is to clean and conserve the West Front’s oldest feature; the Great West Doorway, which dates back to the 12th century.
Following the completion of all these works, it is expected that the West Front will not need major conservation for another century.
Michael Sheppard, director of works and property at Lincoln Cathedral, said: “It is an honour to see the vital conservation works to the West Front continue on schedule. These are the first substantial works to the West Front since the 1980s, and by implementing innovative and cutting-edge conservation practices and techniques, it will be protected for decades to come.
“Lincoln Cathedral is significant in different ways for so many people in the UK, but especially the city of Lincoln and the local community that view it daily. Knowing that we are employing the best treatment techniques and methodology to the iconic building is vitally important and an absolute privilege.
“The members of our incredibly hard-working works department team are using their specialist skills to invest back into the building and as a city, we are very lucky to have such a skilled and sizable team on hand to protect our biggest historical asset.
“Without this skilled work, tragically our Cathedral and other fine examples of historical architecture across the country would descend into ruin. The complex and meticulous conservation work to the Gallery of Kings, Romanesque Frieze, Great West Doorway and niche and gable will protect them for future generations.”
Works to the West Front are just one part of the wider £16.5m project, which has seen other vital restoration and conservation work carried out on the Cathedral’s Parvis, Cloister Wall, Eastgate Wall and 13th century Exchequergate Arch.
The new visitor centre, which will house the Romanesque Frieze copy carvings and other artefacts from the Cathedral’s collection, is the result of a major refurbishment and extension to the Old Deanery on Eastgate in Lincoln. Due to open to the public later this year, it will include exhibition and learning spaces, a shop and café with inside and outside seating.
The Dean’s Green has also been beautifully landscaped to create a peaceful outdoor space, and for the first time in decades, opened last year to the public.
For more information about Lincoln Cathedral, visit https://lincolncathedral.com/.