Commissioned by English Heritage, Recclesia, undertook meticulous masonry conservation and repair works to the high level remains of of St Michael’s Chapel, Wenlock Priory.

  • Client: English Heritage
  • Architect: English Heritage
  • Designation Grade I Listed
  • Project Value: £75,000
  • Services Provided: Stone Masonry Conservation, Building Conservation, Specialist Lime Mortars

Centuries of exposure to the weather and the loss of the spandrels to the cleres­tory windows had left the soft sandsto­ne voussior stones particularly exposed. Although an attempt had been made in the past to protect these less dura­ble areas of masonry with lead cloaking this had proven unsuccessful. As such, rain water was becoming trapped pre­venting the masonry from properly drying out and causing further erosion and damage from freeze/thaw action.

The original aim of the project was to slow the decay to the fabric with minimal masonry conservation, however the extent of the severe erosion and displacement of several of the voussiors and sections of the western mullion re­quired this to be reconsidered. It was therefore decided that it would be best to rebuild and reset these areas with mi­nimal new stonework, as these would otherwise fail, causing a significant health and safety risk to visitors and a significant loss to the readability and un­derstanding of the highly important site.

Great care was taken to conserve as much original masonry as possible, removing vegetation, descaling in areas where the­re was an imminent risk of failing masonry, and re-pointing with specialist lime mor­tar. The lead cloaking was removed from the arches, and small areas dismantled. Following extensive analysis and research of the original forms of the mullions and arches, new hand carved masonry was then produced at Recclesia’s purpose-built masonry workshops, using stone sourced to match the existing masonry in composition and appearance. These new sections were then sensitively cons­tructed ensuring the form and setting out of the original conserved masonry was maintained.