BY THIS weekend, it should all be finished. The replastering and
lime-washing of the largest cloisters in England, those at
Salisbury Cathedral, will be finished. It
completes yet another phase of the cathedral's Major Repair
Programme, which began with repairs to the spire in 1986. Since
then, 85 per cent of the work has been done. If the fund-raising
department can raise just another £5 million, the whole project
will be completed in 2018.
Two stonemasons - Gerry Wilson and Dave Vanstone, from the
Cathedral Works Department - started work on the cloisters 17 years
ago, and have been working on them ever since. The two of them have
done all the final replastering, and Mr Wilson delayed his
retirement, due earlier this year, so that he could finish.
The restoration of the cloisters has been done mostly three bays
at a time. But they decided to replaster the whole of the north
cloister as one job, as part of the cathedral's continuing
preparations for the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, in
Work on the entire vaulted ceiling started in mid-July. The
works team removed the defective plaster at night to minimise the
disruption to visitors. Fortunately, the masonry was found to be in
a sound condition, and areas of 19th-century repair were recorded.
Then the two plasterers moved in, and began the difficult task of
working above their heads.
Several layers were needed, and the traditional lime plaster had
to be mixed constantly, wheeled in on a barrow by Mr Mellon, and
hoisted up to the scaffolding. The ribs and bosses had to be
protected from being marked with the plaster, and the trace of
medieval painted decoration which can still be seen had to be
preserved. Finally, no fewer than six layers of lime wash were
needed to cover the plaster. Mr Wilson can now retire, satisfied
that a good job has been done.