A morbid stone survivor: medieval mortuary slab (with head cradle and drain for bodily fluids) used for embalming bodies, located near the entrance of Jervaulx Abbey, Yorkshire.
Monday, 28 September 2015
Friday, 11 September 2015
Our apprentices are demonstrating their skills at both of Norwich's cathedrals and in our lodge at St Clement's church as part of the Heritage Open Day events.
Among other things, I've enjoyed hearing some myths being 'put to bed' today - namely, that:
- stonemasonry is a dying trade. Nonsense! Just in the UK alone, a recent survey stated that 39% of the existing building stock has stone elements, as does 20% of new build. The order books of quality stonemasons are full for years to come. Wealthy customers continue to commission pieces in abundance. The work is there; what is needed is the proper development of skills - not quick fixes - which is why we offer comprehensive high quality 7 year apprenticeships, under the instruction of time-served Master Masons.
- laser printers and technology are deskilling and replacing traditional skills. Rubbish! No machine can smell a fault in the stone, or hear one either. The human touch is essential when, for instance, carving a £300,000 fireplace in situ for a client so that it is in keeping with its environment and allows the proper play of light to 'trick the eye'. It has to be bespoke. Besides, people will always pay for genuine quality; true craftsmanship will always be in demand.
In order to qualify our apprentices will have to produce a masterpiece of bewildering quality that has absolutely no margins of error. This is why our guild's motto is: Summa inter mediocria ie 'Perfection in an imperfect world'.
Thursday, 3 September 2015
A map showing the guilds' area of work, our lodges lay within the circles. For site work in these areas we will travel each day. Between the circles and the area to the south east may require working away. Our banker work and carving will be shipped all over the world.
The Corinium Amphitheatre Is skirted by the Roman Quern quarry. The name 'Querns' is a direct descendant of the Anglo Saxon word 'Crundles', meaning a quarry, albeit a very distorted version. The evolution of this name can be traced through various historical documents, evolving from Crundles, to Crondles, Cronnes, and Cornes, with the modern name 'Querns' emerging in the 17th Century. Thus the linguistic memory of the one-time use of the area has been preserved over more than 1,500 years since quarrying last took place in the area.
The amphitheatre served the Roman city of Corinium (now Cirencester), then second only in size and importance to London, and had a capacity of around 8,000 spectators. Later it was fortified against Saxon invaders.
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
This is one of Nick Stone's series of images entitled 'Ghost Shops' that can be seen as part of a slideshow running in the galleries of the wonderful Museum of Norwich at the Bridewell. It is, of course, of particular interest to us as it shows our lodge at St Clement's Church in the background. We take a great interest in the history of the surrounding area and, until now, we had no idea that part of the present-day Mischief pub was once a wool shop.
Another hard day today navigating tea shops and country pubs. I have two projects to look at, one in Woodstock and one near Rousham.
I last worked in this area over twenty years ago on Wheatley Park school and Heythrop House.
Wheatley Park School
The new projects are the work of William Kent and John Vanbrugh, relatively small compared with the projects noted above.
I will be carrying out an initial survey of several small buildings leading to a discussion with the client and architect regarding how to move forward. If all goes to plan our apprentices will be carrying out conservation work on these buildings 2017.