In 2000 a sub group of the Westminster Abbey Fabric Commission (WAFC) was formed to look at ways of preserving the Cosmati pavement. Their remit was to examine the pavement to determine how it could be properly cleaned and stabilised in order that it could be safely used during services.
After several years of research and practical investigation this sub group produced a detailed report with recommendations for the first ever full conservation programme.
Conserving the pavement
The Cosmati pavement is a unique work of art but it is also a working floor surface within a busy church. This was one of the most significant factors informing the approach and involved a balance between conservation and restoration, adopting the minimum degree of intervention necessary to stabilise the pavement and to meet with the Dean and Chapter’s brief of a clean, stable and usable floor surface.
After securing funding the on site conservation project began in 2008. This took a small team of conservators and masons two years to complete. The work involved a bespoke and painstaking cleaning regime, removal of two centuries worth of cement repairs, consolidation of actively deteriorating elements within the pavement and re-introduction of the tessellated pattern where missing and only where the original design was known. A protective and enhancing surface coating was also applied. The work was recorded in detail using photogrammetry and digital photography and a series of short film documentaries was produced to record the conservation work which included much discussion with many of the experts involved in the project.