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nicholas pevensey church memorial stone wrok

STONEWORK
St Nicholas Pevensey Church, John Wheatley Memorial
East Sussex 2011

London Stone Conservation was approached by the Parish Church of St Nicholas in Pevensey to provide two new carved alabaster supporting figures to replace the original ones stolen from a seventeenth century memorial.

St Nicholas Church in Pevensey, East Sussex, a fine example of Early English Architecture, houses this sadly derobed memorial in commemoration of John Wheatley, a wealthy parishioner, who, during the reign of Elizabeth I, contributed £40 to the cost of fitting out a ship in the port of Pevensey to fight the Spanish Armada. 

The memorial itself dates to 1616. It was made of English white alabaster, including the two stolen supporting figures that represented The Virtues. Sourcing the stone was only one of the challenges with which we were faced. English pure white alabaster is not only very hard to come by, but even on discovering a piece of suitable size for the commission at hand, it became immediately evident that it was full of venting and thus too risky for use in such a detailed carving. In the end we managed to source two pieces of clean Italian statuary alabaster, a fair match with the appearance of the existing original. In terms of records, again there was very little literature on the existing monument, and more importantly there were no useful existing photographs of the memorial including the supporting figures, other than the one seen here.

Extensive research was therefore carried out, including visits to other churches around the southeast of England that had memorials from a similar time and similar style. The most coherent example was tracked down in the Victoria & Albert Museum: we were there able to study the formal style of this memorial and then use our research in the manufacture of two clay models.

It was there, through our research, that we established the nature of these figures as allegorical representations of The Virtues. One figure, pouring water from a jug into a bowl or cup, she represents FAITH; the other figure, holding a snake and a mirror, she represents PRUDENCE. Once the models were finished and approved by the clients, the alabaster was carved using the pointing technique.

On completion, the heads of the figures were polychromed and gilded.
LSC undertook the installation, ensuring that lengthy and robust stainless steel dowels were inserted deep into the plinth of the figures through to the existing memorial (with express permission) in order to avoid future larceny. The result is a match to the original in style and appearance.

 

View St Nicholas Pevensey Church on Google Streetview

 

 

 

 

Chronology

  • Modelling

  • Installation

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St Nicholas Pevensey Church East SussexSt Nicholas Pevensey Church East SussexSt Nicholas Pevensey Church East SussexSt Nicholas Pevensey Church East SussexSt Nicholas Pevensey Church East SussexSt Nicholas Pevensey Church East Sussex St Nicholas Pevensey Church East SussexSt Nicholas Pevensey Church East SussexSt Nicholas Pevensey Church East Sussex

 

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