16th October 2022

High level inspections

With the slab cast and curing, Messenger proceed with the birdcage scaffold, filling the whole cathedral interior to access all the roof undersides and the internal walls.

With access finally available to us for the first time, we can inspect the roof and upper walls from close quarters.

 

The roof and all upper surfaces are incredibly dirty but more happily, we find it is in good condition and structurally sound. The crudeness of the carpentry and its decoration is surprising, but as we get close to them, our respect grows for Raphael Brandon, who designed most of the roofs in the mid nineteenth century.

 

We also enjoy a close up view of the cathedrals wonderful nineteenth and twentieth century stained glass, and the vividly carved figures who hold up the Great South aisle roof trusses.

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There is evidence of movement in the stonework and cracking, but this appears to be historic and Price and Myers are content to simply repoint stones that have moved and some of the larger cracks, and make a note that they are monitored at each Quinquennial Inspection by the Cathedral Architect.

 

Access allows a specialist paint investigation to take place, with Paul d’Armada using numerous tiny scrapes taken away and analysed to determine the paint composition, sequence and thus likely dates. This is vital to inform our decorative scheme, which has previously only been outlined pending this research.

The conclusions are that most of the timberwork paintwork is modern, and corroborates the vague documentary evidence we had discovered previously, that much was painted in the 1980’s. However, it also shows that the window tracery is whitewashed under modern emulsion. Our original plan to remove the coatings on the tracery therefore needs a rethink – whitewash is almost impossible to remove from porous stone without physically abrading it, and that is something we don’t wish to do.

In the north porch the permeable and defective brick and stone floor has removed, with formwork in place to cast a new slab. As well as creating a drier boiler room, this allows a new inclined floor build-up above, which we have designed to create a second accessible entrance to the cathedral.