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10th October 2013, 9:18am
Lincoln conservators commended for heroic rescue project
St John the Baptist Chapel A restoration project carried out by a crack team of Lincoln students to return a 19th century chapel back to its former glory has been commended and hailed as “heroic” by the English Heritage Angel Awards.

The awards, which were founded by Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber to reward the efforts of local people in saving their heritage, celebrate work to rescue historic landmarks at risk of ruin.

Nominated as part of the 2013 awards, the specialist team from the University of Lincoln’s renowned conservation consultancy division, Crick Smith, received a commendation “to recognise the tremendous time, effort and determination to rescue St John the Baptist Chapel”.

The chapel was built in 1897 and designed by arts and craft architect, Sir Edward Guy Dawber. Following decades of re-decoration, decay, fire damage and vandalism, Crick Smith was called upon to conserve and restore key areas of the intricate building.

The team was led by Paul Croft, Crick Smith Conservator and Research Fellow at the University of Lincoln’s School of Art and Design. It also included two of the company’s AHRC-funded internship students, Jade Maloney and Benedict Ryan, and fellow conservator Katie Langridge, who all graduated from the University’s BA (Hons) Conservation and Restoration programme in 2011.

Together they were commissioned by Bench Architects to carry out an initial research assessment and produce treatment proposals to conserve and restore the chapel’s oak screen, altar reredos (decorative screening), wainscot panelling and Stations of the Cross.

The team employed architectural paint research – an innovative research methodology that combines archival findings with microscopic examination of paint samples - to clarify the decorative history of the chapel. Paint samples from targeted areas of the church were analysed to establish its original decorative schemes, and the colours were quantified using a spectrophotometer - a piece of specialist equipment which measures how light reflects from an object.

Further tests also revealed the presence of an intricate stencil scheme in the sanctuary area, and based on their findings, funds were made available by the ‘Friends of Friendless Churches’ for Crick Smith to carry out their recommendations, restoring the chapel’s original impressive interior.

Paul Croft said: “Our work to research and reinstate the beautiful interior of St John the Baptist Chapel was based on our light touch approach, which conforms to the standard conservation practice of minimal intervention but draws on cutting-edge methodologies that deliver accurate results. Our research ensured we could produce a faithful reproduction of the chapel’s original decorative scheme, so that the heritage of what is a very unique place of worship could be restored for years to come.

“It is so important to engage our student conservators in these projects, because through exposure to new research techniques and the preservation of important historical landmarks, they gain truly invaluable experience that might otherwise be difficult to come by. We are all extremely honoured that our work has been recognised by such a prestigious awards scheme, and thanks to their experience on this project, Jade, Benedict and Katie are now involved in an exciting programme of museum work in the Middle East. We are delighted with their success.”

Founded by Ian and Michael Crick Smith, the consultancy division is now based in the University of Lincoln’s new £11 million Art and Design Building on the Brayford Pool Campus. Crick Smith has been informing conservation and reinstatement programmes for over 25 years, and has been enlisted by numerous organisations including the National Trust, Historic Scotland and World Monuments Fund Britain.

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