Conservators focus on St Catherine’s Chapel Garden
Saturday, 19th May 2007
Abbey conservators are examining the best way of cleaning the remains of the stonework of the 12th century Chapel of St. Catherine.
Vanessa Simeoni from the conservation team said:
Gentle cleaning of the historic stonework will begin once the event season is over. Over the last few months we have been carrying out tests to establish the best way to clean it. There are various types of stone, the earliest dating from the Norman period with interventions from each century.
As the area used to be a chapel we are hoping to find fragments of any original paint scheme - not terribly likely but there is always the possibility if you know where and how to look at historic surfaces. We will be concentrating our efforts on the original capitals.
We have recently been stabilising the Conservators focus on St. Catherine’s columns to the west of the chapel with lime grout and lime mortars, eventually tying in with the wall behind with purpose-made metal fixings.
The roof of St Catherine’s was removed in 1578 and a house built over part of the chapel. A later house built on the same spot was destroyed by bombs in 1941 and in the subsequent rebuilding as much of the original chapel as possible was left exposed.
St Catherine’s has seen many famous assemblies both secular and clerical. In 1176 it was in this chapel that the Archbishops of Canterbury and York quarrelled over precedence - which resulted in the first receiving the title primate ‘of All England’ and the other ‘of England’.
It was in St Catherine’s also that Henry III, surrounded by prelates, solemnly swore on the Gospels to maintain Magna Carta.