Appointment of Conservation Architect

Appointment of Conservation Architect

Conservation Architects for Project St. Mary’s

Conservation Architect's officeIn December 2017, the Project team held two days of interviews for the position of Conservation Architect on Project St Mary’s.

A Conservation Architect acts as the lead professional on a project advising the project team on design, restoration and renovation. They bring in the appropriate specialists as required  and they overseeing work by sub-contractors and specialists.

In addition to being the Conservation Architect the successful candidate will be appointed as Quinquennial Architects for the churches of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermaston and St. Nicholas, Wasing.

Acanthus Clews ArchitectsThe team from Acanthus Clews of Banbury were selected from a shortlist of four excellent candidate firms. It was felt that Acanthus Clews bring the right level of experience and knowledge that will enable Project St. Mary’s to be successful. More information on Acanthus Clews can be found on their website.

Acanthus Clews Team for Project St. Mary’s  is:

– Camilla Finlay
– David Spragg
– Henry Sanders

The first task for Acanthus Clews will be the quinquennial inspections of the two churches in early 2018.

A kick off meeting will follow with the Project Team. This will build rapport and to start the processes to develop the case for the first round of funding, but more of this later …

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Search for a Conservation Architect

Search for a Conservation Architect

A Conservation Architect for Project St Mary’s is being sought.

architectual papers

Since early summer 2017 a search for a Conservation Architect has been underway. The Conservation Architect will be the lead professional on the project, who will work with the project team to take the plans through discover, design and onto implementation. They are also being asked to take up the role of ‘church architect’ and to produce the quinqennial report, due in 2018.

The Oxford Diocese approved list of church architects was consulted and a short-list drawn up of 7 companies. Short-listing was based on conservation accreditation, distance from Aldermaston and an internet search on the companies. An invitation document was drawn up seeking information about the companies, their experience on similar projects to Project St Mary’s, their methodology of running such a project and an understanding of the outside resources they would be able to call upon.   The 7 companies were invited to come and see the church before submitting tenders.

6 tenders were received and it was delightful to know that all 6 were highly capable and able to undertake our project. After a long evenings deliberation the project team came up with a 2nd short-list of 4 companies for the interview stage.

A four member panel will interview the candidates with the rest of the project team and two advisor sitting in as observers. The interviews will take place on 5th and 6th December 2017 and a decision on the successful candidate will follow shortly after this.

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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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Article for Parish Annual Report

Article for Parish Annual Report

New building

The progress with the new building has continued to be delayed due to discussion with Praxis, the owners of the Manor House.


In contrast. good progress has been made with the restoration work. On this front, we continued to work with specialists in restoration and renovation of old protected churches.


Environmental Study

Tobit Curteis and colleague collecting measurements

Firstly during Spring 2016 we engaged with Tobit Curteis to undertake an environmental study covering matters such as temperature, humidity and air movement and subsequently this April to advise on restoration planning and appropriate experts.


Following on from this, arrangements have been made with Peter Martindale (who produced a report in 2015 on the church wall paintings) to undertake restoration work starting this June. In terms of funding we are still using our previously raised start-up funds  and most of the immediate work to be undertaken will be funded by the  “100 Church Treasures’’. Funding for the major restoration and new building works will need to be raised once more detailed plans have been produced.


Ian Cave – Chairman – Project St Marys

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Environmental Study – Nov 2016

Environmental Study – Nov 2016

Analysis of the environment in and outside the building.

Tobit Curteis Associates have been commissioned to undertake an environment study of the church building. This study is critical for taking Project St. Mary’s forward. Understanding the environmental conditions in and around the building will be a key input to planning conservation activities.

This study is part of the 100 National Treasures  initiative from the Church of England that will help us conserve the wonderful wall-paintings in the church.

Tobit Curteis and one of his colleagues visited the church on 21st November 2016 to take measurements and seek evidence for their report.

The report is due in early 2017


Impact on Heating system choice

This environmental study will provide information that will help drive a decision for a new heating system. There are many choices for a modern heating system to upgrade the current old radiators. But the decision is not simple because there several conflicting requirements:

  • how to keep people warm
  • how to keep the costs of heating low
  • how to protect our wonderful artefacts from further damaged
  • how to help reduce damp









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“St Mary’s church is unarguably one of the most important painted churches in England”

So says Peter Martindale in his report on the wall-paintings at St. Marys, Aldermaston.

Martindale Report

Peter Martindale was commissioned by the Church Buildings Council, London, independently of Project St Mary’s, but most timely in it’s execution because of our project ambitions and plans. The report covers  information on the age and subjects of the wall-paintings that are in the church, their condition and also proposals for their stabilisation and renovation. The recommendations in the report are being incorporated into our plans in conjunction with activities by the Parochial Church Council’s Fabric and Buildings committee.

More information about Peter Martindale Conservation

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Phase 1 – Funding for next step

Project St. Mary’s has kicked off with some informal conversations with experts in the fields of church renovation, wall paintings, stained glass windows and Grade 1 listed buildings. This has lead to a list of possible renovation and rejuvenation sub-projects:

  • meeting room and facilities on the south side between the Forster Chapel and Vestry
  • replacement of external pebble-dash cladding
  • restoration of wall-paintings
  • restoration of other areas of wall plaster
  • new heating system

The next steps require formal engagement with experts, in particular with an architect well versed in church restoration and Grade 1 Listed buildings. To this end the team has applied for Funding from West Berkshire charitable trusts via their collective online funding website Find-Me-A -Grant. Out application has been granted which means that any donation from an individual or organisation will be doubled by the charitable trusts. Also, individuals can claim Gift Aid to enable us to claim back tax to help fund the project.


To make a donation type Find me a Grant  into your internet search engine, or click the links on this page, and when you access the site select ‘Live Application’. Then type Aldermaston Church into the search box. Our bid will then appear.  Please note you can opt to be anonymous if you wish.

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Grant for Conservation of Wall-Paintings

Several of Aldermaston Church’s medieval wall paintings will be conserved thanks to a grant from the Headley trust.

Extract from Church Care Quarterly Review from July 2014

… With grateful thanks to The Headley Trust, a grant of £60,000 will support work
to conserve the wall paintings in two historic churches.

St. Christopher

13th Century Painting of St. Christopher in Aldermaston Church

The walls of St Mary, Aldermaston in Berkshire are scattered with medieval paintings
depicting amongst them the images of St Christopher, The Annunciation and
St Thomas of Beckett. The second church to benefit from the award is the
15th century church St Breaca in Breage, Cornwall. The church has fabulous wall
paintings which depict the figures of St Christopher, St Hilary, St Corentine and
St Ambrose. We can now commission surveys to inform the next stages.



The wall paintings date from the earliest centuries of the churches existence (13th & 14th)

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