Timber Conservation - Church - Domestic - Polychromed
Through years of experience of working on scores of historic buildings, some of which are amongst our most important heritage sites, we quite simply know what to do, how to do it, when to do it and when not to do anything.  Working to the highest conservation standards, we use approved and tested treatments to arrest damp, fungal and insect decay, clean polychromed wood, arrest paint loss, consolidate and save even the most fragile timber, carefully and sensitively scribe in missing timber where appropriate and design and execute structural solutions to reinforce and protect the object from further damage. 
Our paint conservator colleagues are all accredited and have worked with us for many years.

Below is a gallery of images from our timber conservation work - click on the arrows to move left and right through the slides or click on the 'pictures' tab to see a selection of thumbnail images.

1a. St Mary's, Molland, Devon: triple decker pulpit and tester

Molland has one of the most complete 18th-century interiors in a medieval church situated on Exmoor. The pulpit and tester were becoming dangerous with the tester being propped for several years.

Timber Restoration

1b. St Mary's, Molland, Devon: triple decker pulpit and tester

Mouldings and hand cut veneers replaced on pulpit.

Timber Restoration

1c. St Mary's, Molland, Devon: triple decker pulpit and tester

The woodwork was conserved and the tester hung using stainless steel braided wire, thus avoiding disturbing the original cantilever beam in the north wall.

Timber Restoration

1d. St Mary's, Molland, Devon: triple decker pulpit and tester

After conservation

Timber Restoration

2a. Peterborough Cathedral: Nave Ceiling

The oldest and largest wooden ceiling in Europe, which took seven years to conserve.

Timber Restoration

2b. Peterborough Cathedral: Nave Ceiling

Detail

Timber Restoration

3a. St Mary’s Church, Temple Guiting, Glos: The Decalogue formerly installed behind the altar

Stunning quality design and carving of the mid-18th century. Pictured here before conservation.

Timber Restoration

3b. St Mary’s Church, Temple Guiting, Glos: The Decalogue formerly installed behind the altar

The conservation of the timber and later polychrome won a commendation from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Pictured here after conservation.

Timber Restoration

3c. St Mary’s Church, Temple Guiting, Glos: The Decalogue formerly installed behind the altar

Drawing showing conservation proposals.

Timber Restoration

3d. St Mary’s Church, Temple Guiting, Glos: The Decalogue formerly installed behind the altar

Drawing showing extent of work carried out.

Timber Restoration

4a. St Mary’s Church, West Worlington, Devon: wall panels, floors and benches

The panelling, spanning at least four centuries and found on every wall throughout the church, was all decayed; due to careful conservation, none was lost.

Timber Restoration

4b. St Mary’s Church, West Worlington, Devon: wall panels, floors and benches

Extensive timber replacement and reinforcement on back surface.

Timber Restoration

4c. St Mary’s Church, West Worlington, Devon: wall panels, floors and benches

Panelling during conservation, with minimal loss or repair showing on front face.

Timber Restoration

5a. St Mary’s Church, Abergavenny, Mons: choirstalls

One of the best sets of choirstalls in Wales with unusually designed high stalls for the dignitaries at the east end.

Timber Restoration

5b. St Mary’s Church, Abergavenny, Mons: choirstalls

Note the difference before the discoloured varnish was removed. Too much of our woodwork is distorted by the dark varnish applied in the 19th-century to make things look old.

Timber Restoration

5c. St Mary’s Church, Abergavenny, Mons: choirstalls

After conservation. Note the extent of original polychrome revealed

Timber Restoration

6. St Helen’s, Abingdon, Oxon: Lady Chapel ceiling

One of the highest quality collections of panels in the country, dating from 1391. It had suffered two bouts of 19th-century nailing and a 20th-century poorly considered heating scheme. The work was completed on the 600th anniversary of its installation. The woodwork and all of the panels were remounted, allowing for future environmental fluctuations.

Timber Restoration

7. St Andrew’s Church, Isleham, Cambs: Nave Roof

One of the great East Anglian angel roofs, where we attended to decaying angels and loosely fixed wings and all the other carvings.

Timber Restoration

8a. St Mary’s, Little Hormead, Herts: North Door

One of the most important early Norman doors in the country, exhibited at the Romanesque Exhibition in the Haywood Gallery in 1984. Recent dendrochronology confirms a date of circa 1150.

Timber Restoration

8b. St Mary’s, Little Hormead, Herts: North Door

Severe decay along base of door.

Timber Restoration

8c. St Mary’s, Little Hormead, Herts: North Door

Previous attempts at preserving the very decayed bottom edge had failed and these are now being addressed.

Timber Restoration

9a. St Morwenna, Morwenstow, Cornwall: figurehead

Probably the last figurehead surviving in a Cornish churchyard as a grave marker for those drowned when the brig Caledonia was wrecked within a short distance of the church.

Timber Restoration

9b. St Morwenna, Morwenstow, Cornwall: figurehead

The very decayed figurehead was carefully conserved and placed in the church with a replica in GRP reinstated above the grave in the churchyard. Note the unfortunate remodelling of the face when last restored.

Timber Restoration

9c. St Morwenna, Morwenstow, Cornwall: figurehead

After conservation.

Timber Restoration

10a. Number 9 Southgate, Gloucester: 17th-century house front

This rare survival of a panelled house front in Gloucester needed minor repair and protection against the elements.

Timber Restoration

10b. Number 9 Southgate, Gloucester: 17th-century house front

Following conservation.

Timber Restoration

11. Chesterfield Museum: Chesterfield: builder’s wheel

One of the very few surviving builder’s wheels installed in the tower of the parish church in the mid-14th century, but removed in the 1950s when the ringing chamber was moved. Surviving three moves in storage, the large number of components were finally reassembled and installed in Chesterfield museum in the early 1990s with the help of a major grant from the Science Museum.

Timber Restoration

12. Marlborough House, Brighton: portico

This important house was created out of local cottages by Robert Adam. The laminated columns and much else of the portico were falling to pieces, which we conserved. Of particular interest were the stucco roundels.

Timber Restoration

13a. House of Lords: Peers Lobby ceiling

Following the conservation of the Chamber ceiling, a different approach was sought for the Lobby ceiling and we were asked to carry out this project. The timber (as in the Chamber) had become desiccated by the gasoliers. It was interesting to see Pugin’s changes of mind in the colours he used.

Timber Restoration

13b. House of Lords: Peers Lobby ceiling

Detail

Timber Restoration

14a. Peterborough Cathedral: Norman gates

Following major impact damage these gates required serious repair, sadly only two years after we had already carried out general conservation.

Timber Restoration

14b. Peterborough Cathedral: Norman gates

The damage revealed the quite different original design of the front of the gates beneath the late 18th century refacing.

Timber Restoration

14c. Peterborough Cathedral: Norman gates

After conservation

Timber Restoration

14d. Peterborough Cathedral: Norman gates

Drawing showing extent of damage to front of gate

Timber Restoration

14e. Peterborough Cathedral: Norman gates

Drawing showing repairs carried out to front of gate

Timber Restoration

14f. Peterborough Cathedral: Norman gates

Drawing showing repairs carried out to back of gate

Timber Restoration

14g. Peterborough Cathedral: Norman gates

Drawing showing extent of stainless steel added to reinforce structure of gate, allowing full retention of original material

Timber Restoration

15. Church of the Holy Cross, Cruwys Morchard, Devon: chancel screens

Following a disastrous fire in 1697, the church was rebuilt and furnished. Maybe under the influence of the Lord of the Manor’s family, still there now after 700 years, some aspects of the work are of great quality for such a remote church in a poor county. Here the Grinling Gibbons style carved lime capitals and modillions can be seen following our recent major scheme of conservation and cleaning as well as an unusual frieze of yew wood.

Timber Restoration

16a. Derby Cathedral: Monument to Sub Dean Johnson

This early-16th-century effigy now lying on a 19th-century tomb chest (except the front panel carved with bedesmen) is undergoing minor conservation. The open shelf of the tomb chest is to be made secure so that the separate cadaver can be returned to lie below the effigy as originally intended.

Timber Restoration

16b. Derby Cathedral: Monument to Sub Dean Johnson

Here Elizabeth Cheadle (polychrome conservator) is testing the surface for traces of polychrome.

Timber Restoration


Hugh Harrison Conservation ♦ Ringcombe Farm, West Anstey, South Molton, Devon, EX36 3NZ, UK ♦ tel: 01398 341382