On-Site

Leicester Cathedral Revealed

2nd August 2023

Stone floor and sample panel bits

By the time of our next visit, large areas of the new floor are complete, with the internal columns standing within their darker Purbeck Grub limestone bands, delineating the original layout of the building, and providing additional eastward emphasis. From the west gallery of the cathedral, one can appreciate the impact of the new floor and how, although contemporary in conception and design, its materials, scale and pattern complement the older elements of the cathedral interior and the rest of our decorative scheme.

Almost invisible within the floor, with tops neatly inlaid with the stone pattern, the numerous new floor boxes will provide power and audio-visual outlets over the whole space, to allow it to be used flexibly for events. Just as importantly, these provide access to all the underground containment, so that all the wiring can be replaced or altered in the future without having to disturb the floor itself.

 

The design of the HLC’s facades prompted much debate amongst the statutory authorities, needing permission from both the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, the Church of England’s body under the relevant legislation, the Care of Cathedrals Measure, and the local planning authority, Leicester City Council. The eventual solution approved elaborates the sandstone facades of the primary volume, containing the public facilities, with narrow vertical fins of faience, ie glazed terracotta, which project from the face of the stonework, and vertical grooves cut in the stonework itself, with a roof of copper alloy that will patinate down to a warm copper brown colour.

Our planning consent contains a condition requiring construction of a sample panel, to demonstrate the actual finish and some of the fine detailing of stone, terracotta and copper. We are excited to inspect the various components being assembled by Messenger, including a mock-up of the fin weathering in copper alloy, grooved Northumberland Buff stone carved by Midland Stone Masonry and faience fin units from Darwen terracotta.

The latter seem to have a big variation in colour, but turns out that some of these have been mistakenly fired twice, as they are darker than specified. We decide to use some of these to check that the planning authority are content with the proposed glaze – which is the lighter one.