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The St Astier Blog – all the latest news on our specialist repair schemes and related activities brought to you with a hefty dose of insight into the inner workings of our humble company.

Replicating Human Error

Replicating Human Error

The boss feature on the left of the photograph formed part of the spire at St James’ Church in Alnwick which sustained enough damage during storms in November of last year that it was dislodged from the structure and crashed to the ground. As part of the project to reinstate the spire, St Astier were able to retrieve all of the pieces of damaged stone features in order to form detailed replicas. Of particular interest to the masons were the floral carvings – all of them are different and most likely due to the original stonemason setting an example and having his apprentices attempt to copy the design. This is most clearly visible in the irregular shape of the bottom left floral carving shown above.

Work to ressurect the spire got underway this month and our stonemasons were able to mason a new cross projection with a feature boss to each of the four pieces carved to provide an exact replica of the original detailing. The irregular carving was exactly recreated (shown above, right), preserving a physical record of the original work of the masons and their varying levels of skill.

As part of the project, 300mm was carefully removed from the stem of the pinacle and a new section with sandstone of the same geological match was masoned and fixed with a stainless steel dowel. The pinnacle was then finally lifted into position and carefully refixed making use of the existing dowel positions to the top of the spire.