Condition Survey of Alabaster Monument August 2017

Condition Survey of Alabaster Monument August 2017

Condition Survey in August 2017 of the alabaster monument and the wall plaque in the Foster chapel.

Sir George Foster and wife, Aldermaston St Marys

Condition Survey

Cliveden Conservation has carried out a condition survey on the alabaster tomb and the adjacent but unrelated wall plaque. The purpose of the survey is to determine the state of these artefacts and what if any restorative actions are required. This includes analysis of paint which just remains on parts of the tomb. The report is expected in early autumn 2017. The results of the report will be considered within the larger project to restore and rejuvenate the church at its facilities.

Tomb of Sir George Forster (1469-1533) and his wife Elizabeth

Tomb (1469-1533)One of the outstanding features of Aldermaston’s St Mary’ church is the large, very fine, alabaster tomb under the arch to the side chapel. It commemorates Sir George Forster K.B. and Elizabeth, his wife.  Although it has been damaged when the arch above collapsed the figures remain well preserved. Sir George’s armour and his wife’s dress being very accurately and beautifully portrayed.  Originally it would have been coloured and gilded.  The little dog tugging at Lady Forster’s skirt is interesting and is said to be a sign of fidelity.  Below is a series of figures.  These may represent the children of Sir George and his wife and possibly other members of the family, or may be simply “weepers”.  Traces of colour are still visible here.

 

Wall Plaque

Possible Italian plaster plaque

The wall plaque is a bit of a mystery. It is thought to be a plaster replica of a wall plaque or an altar front. Probably collected by aristocracy upon their Grand Tour in the 17th and 18th centuries. This is pure conjecture and we await to see if the report provides any further details.

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Treatment of plaster behind NW wall paintings July 2017

Treatment of plaster behind NW wall paintings July 2017

Treatment to stabilise the plaster on which there are special Medieval and Reformation wall-paintings was undertaken in July 2017.

As part of the Church of England ‘100 Treasures‘ initiative, the conservationist Peter Martindale returned to St. Mary’s. He secured the plaster work behind some of the wall-paintings. This follows up on the recommendations Peter made in his 2016 report on the condition of the wall-paintings.

Treatment was to an area at the west end of the north wall of the church, up to the second window, where there are Medieval and Reformation wall-paintings. These wall-paintings had been identified in Peter’s report as being in danger of further deterioration and possible loss if remedial action wasn’t taken.

July 2017 - Scaffolding for Peter MartindaleScaffolding was required for Peter to safely access and carry out the treatment to the higher parts of the walls. It was also required to brace the specialist pressure pads Peter used to hold the wall during drying of the lime-based grouting. The special grouting is injected behind weak or flaking areas of plaster. In the picture, that looks west towards the main entrance to the church, can be seen the scaffolding structure used. The left side is just there to prevent any movement of the working platforms on the right, hence the bracing poles across the aisle.

Conclusion of Wall-Painting Survey

July 2017 Wall-painting survey

Peter concluded the week’s work by following up on his initial study of the wall-paintings by completing the survey of rest of the church. This was because of the volume and extent of the wall-paintings in the church Peter had run out of time in his Dec 2016 assignment.

July 20917 Wall-painting survey at East end of Church

This survey involves detailing the condition of the plaster and the paint. Peter also test cleans small areas to assess the level of dirt. These cleaned patches can be seen throughout the church if you look closely enough. We are expecting Peter’s second report on the wall-paintings later this summer

We are expecting Peter’s second concluding report on the wall-paintings later this summer. This will give us a complete record of the condition of wall-paintings in the church and an accompanying action list for the major restoration work, that will eventually include the cleaning of all wall-paintings.

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