Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Restoration of Worksop Priory

A view along the south elevation of Worksop Priory

According to a contemporary account, before the restoration of 1854-59 by the local architect, Richard Nicholson, Worksop Priory was in a dangerous state, with the whole of the south arcade severely leaning - due to its undermining by excavations for intramural graves – and that this was remedied by structural jacking to bring the arcade back to the perpendicular.

A general view of the south aisle and clerestory

It is further recorded in Kelly’s Directory for 1848 that “the north and south sides have been pulled down and rebuilt, the east end taken out” and, when quickly walking around the modern church, the profiles of the mouldings to the windows and associated details along the nave look very sharp – when compared to those seen on the Norman west front.

A detail of the masonry to the tower (left) and the south aisle

Having previously seen Permian dolomitic limestone in numerous natural outcrops, quarries and historic buildings, on this occasion I didn't examine the building stones closely but, at a distance, the condition of the walling to the aisles – especially their patina and general blackening – suggests that only essential repairs were carried out to the pre-existing mediaeval walls during the Victorian restoration.

The south transept

The next “restoration” to Worksop Priory took place when the previously detached ruins of the 13th century Lady Chapel were rebuilt in 1922, with the further addition of the transepts between 1929 and 1935 – the latter containing rubble walling in its fabric, together with fine ashlar.

1970's additions to the east end in White Mansfield stone

Walking further around the church to look at its southern parts, the change in architectural style from the inter-war period to the 1970's is very abrupt and the stone used to build the latest addition to the church is White Mansfield – which I once sawed and hand dressed for 3 months, along with Ancaster and Chilmark, in the last known source of this unique building stone, before the quarry was closed and sold off for redevelopment.

A general view of the 1970's additions and the north transept

The White Mansfield stone was quarried from a sandy facies of the Cadeby Formation, formed as a sandbank at the mouth of a river and, being classified as a dolomitic sandstone, it is very different to the dolomitic limestone of the same formation, which is found further to the north in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.

A section of walling to the 1970's extension built in White Mansfield stone

In appearance it is generally honey coloured with discontinuous partings of pale green clay, which differentially weather to give historic masonry a distinctive texture that looks like old leather and which is very difficult to match with building stones that are currently in production.

A detail of weathered clay in White Mansfield stone

1 comment:

  1. The 1970's addition is jarring in style & materials. One wonders why they bothered