City of London Cemetery & Crematorium

Conservation & Repair of Entrance Portal

The cemetery is the City of London’s principle burial site and the largest and busiest in Britain. In autumn 2016, London Stone Conservation completed a complex program to repair the entrance portal to the Grade I listed burial ground.

The Cemetery was founded in 1854 and designed by the architect William Haywood. The portal is a perpendicular Gothic gabled entrance screen made up of three arches, with triple ogee-canopied niches over the main central arch, carrying the City of London crest supported by two dragons. It is constructed of coursed rubble stone with Caen stone dressings.

The City of London commissioned London Stone Conservation to carry out a full schedule of repair to the entrance screen. This included the selective cleaning and repair of the rubble stone and quoins; complete replacement of the copings and weathering details; the conservation, repair or replacement of individual carvings and the consolidation and protection of the original fabric. The replacement of the coping and weathering stones in Lavoux A Grain, a more robust alternative to Caen, was essential to restore the functionality of the portal, allowing it to effectively shed water, release any trapped moisture and protect the edifice. The City’s Coat of Arms had suffered severe decay due to environmental processes of degradation and the use of unsympathetic repair materials. Hard cement repairs had undermined the aesthetic, legibility and structural stability of the carving. Selected repairs were removed to slow the rate of decay and Nanolime was used to consolidate and preserve the friable surfaces. Stonework beyond salvage, such as the shield and Muscovy hat were recarved in Caen Firm B Bed and previous mortar repairs were reinstated in a porous and permeable lime putty mix. The crest was then coated with a colour matched casein-bound limewash to unify the appearance and provide a protective surface.

The repair works will stop this cycle of deterioration and safeguard the structure while preserving the history of the monument. The Cemetery is incredibly busy and the portal the only access point for the countless visitors, staff and funerals that use the site throughout the year. The portal remained open for the duration of the project and the works carried out with the greatest consideration for the surroundings and respect for the staff and visitors to the cemetery.