Humphries & Jones Ltd - St Mary’s Church, Buckfast Abbey

The internal cleaning, conservation and repair of St Mary's Church was carried out by Humphries & Jones Ltd over a two year period, with the work mainly focused on the cleaning of all internal stonework.

The Problem

Despite being a relatively 'modern' building, built between 1905 and 1937, thousands of annual visitors along with 75 years of candle burning had contributed to a high level of soot and dirt build up throughout. There were also areas of severe staining caused by water ingress from windows, gutters and roofs. Although the main area to be cleaned was stone, there were also many other different materials including gilded altars, mosaic floors and figurative ceiling paintings, polychrome sculpture and carved timber choir stalls.

The Solution

The majority of stone surfaces were simply cleaned by washing with water, but the sandstone and render vaulting within the church as well as some of the chapel altars and areas of limestone had suffered from more ingrained dirt and staining. We used Restorative Techniques' Latex Poultice Cleaner (weakest strength A) on these areas. The controlled method of cleaning, and stable non hazardous waste product made this an efficient and effective cleaning method for these areas of the church.

The Outcome

The long duration of this project enabled us to develop our method of working with the latex to achieve a wonderful even appearance, and the client was extremely happy with the results. The smell of ammonia from the pre-cured latex was an issue, so applications were limited and when possible applied late in the day to minimise the impact on visitors. We would certainly consider using the Restorative Latex Poultices again on future projects and indeed have since.

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