Cathedral renovators take step towards national award for their work

The Great South Window at Canterbury Cathedral

Craftsmen who rebuilt the enormous Great South Window at Canterbury Cathedral have won an award for their work.

The window is  the winner of the conservation section in the 2018 south-east Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors awards and will now go forward to the national awards on November 2 in London.

The team outdid competition from 11 other UK projects.

The window had to be rebuilt after a piece of stone fell from it in June 2009. The Cathedral then discovered other issues with the 15th century 55ft structure.

Panels containing the stained glass depicting figures known as the Ancestors of Christ, were removed – some going on tour to the USA – and then the structure taken apart with each stone being measured and recorded so that exact replicas could be carved.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Funded by benefactors through the Cathedral Trust, the £2.5 million project was finished in 2016 when it was blessed by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby at a special service.

Cathedral head of conservation Heather Newton says she is proud to have been involved with the project and of all those who took part in it.

“I particularly want to commend Darren McCulloch-Smith, our setter-out mason,” she said.

“Without his dedication and forensic investigation and understanding of the three-dimensional puzzle that was the damaged and dismantled stonework, the result would not have been as successful as it is.”

Describing the work on the window, the judges said: “The world-class restoration work carried out by the Cathedral’s own craftsmen demonstrates how contemporary conservation and ancient skills were combined to restore the Cathedral’s showpiece medieval glass in its full glory.”

Jo Deeming, the Cathedral’s Surveyor to the Fabric and also a partner at Purcell architects, oversaw the project’s research and development programme and co-ordinated the design team’s technical design work.

He said: “There are few architectural conservation projects that can truly be described as unique, but the conservation of Canterbury’s Great South Window really does deserve the accolade.

“Seemingly insurmountable challenges had to be worked through and overcome at every stage – there is nothing simple about dismantling, conserving and rebuilding a medieval structure.

“That the project is so successful is down to one thing – the determination of the Canterbury team to do the right thing by each other and for the fabric.

“That is the beauty I see in our window each and every time I look at it, and clearly the awards judging panel couldn’t help but feel the same.”

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