12th November 2022

Lovells sample visit – Purbeck

During the long period of gaining consents for the reordering, many of the queries and concerns of the consultees were focussed on the floor. Both in terms of its functionality – the impact of the inclined plane, the services outlet boxes, and the need to make it moisture-open to reduce the rate of evaporation in the existing piers and column stonework and resulting salt damage.

However, its visual aspects were also debated at length, with consultees considering our proposal for a directional pattern of diagonal strips over the nave and aisles, unifying them around the Sanctuary, drawing one’s eye and attention eastward from the entrances, and integrating the font.

The strength of this pattern and contrast, between each strip and between each type of stone, was a key issue for CFCE and their consultees. We gained consent following their approval of a physical sample installed in the cathedral in January 2018 of the proposed stones: Ancaster buff limestone, from Lincolnshire, as already used in the Sanctuary; Hopton Wood, a cooler-grey coloured limestone from Derbyshire; and two blends of Purbeck limestone from Dorset, a pale cream-buff blend from various beds and a darker blueish blend to use as a contrasting margin and in the arcade strips. All have finely-grained fossils visible and a similar visual texture. Purbeck supply is variable, and the stone available depends on what is extracted from year to year, so it was important to specify blends of Purbeck that could use what stone was actually available during the contract.

In November 2022 we were invited by Messenger to visit Lovell’s quarry on the Isle of Purbeck, to see their production line, talk to them about the details of our design and how that might be modified to best suit the stone available, and review their proposed stone: samples of their proposed light and dark blends of Purbeck, and a sample of Hopton Wood supplied by Ketton Stone.

We felt the samples were a good match for those we had shown CFCE, compared with our small control samples retained from almost 5 years before, and so approved them as the control samples for the new stone floor finishes.