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Lincoln Cathedral’s west front to be scaffolding-free for first time in 36 years

04 February 2022

iStock

Lincoln Cathedral, seen with scafolding

Lincoln Cathedral, seen with scafolding

THE west front of Lincoln Cathedral will be free of scaffolding for the first time since 1986, after the latest round of restoration work is completed later this month.

Owing to conservation works on the Romanesque frieze, and the subsequent copy carvings that will be going inside a new exhibition centre, scaffolding has been constantly required in recent years.

The project to clean and protect the carvings began in 2016, after receiving £1.5 million of National Lottery Heritage Funding.

A spokesman for Lincoln Cathedral said: “The west front of the cathedral has been covered with scaffolding for more than four years while we have completed essential conservation works. . . We are now excited to unveil the 12th-century Romanesque frieze after more than 35 years.”

Lincoln Cathedral has an annual rolling £1.9-million programme of conservation, repair, and restoration to the fabric of the cathedral, and, in addition, individual projects.

The panels of the frieze carvings were extracted from the west front so that their condition could be assessed in the workshop. Owing to the deterioration of the sculpture, it was decided that only one of the original panels could be returned. As a result, copy carvings were made for the west front, and the original carvings have been conserved and mounted as an exhibition.

The series of high-relief panels running from the north-west corner of the Norman west front to the southern side of the building depict scenes from the Old and New Testaments, and were carved probably between 1120 and 1160.

Seventeen complete panels of the frieze now survive: eight to the north of the central recess, and nine to the south. Lincoln Cathedral now has, in effect, two copies of the friezes — on the west front and in the exhibition centre — both a mix of original and replacement carvings.

The installation of the frieze in the new exhibition centre is the last milestone in the cathedral’s £16-million National Lottery-funded project, which also included the construction of a new visitor centre, landscaping of new external spaces, and restoration and conservation work to the west front, parvis, cloister wall, and 13th-century Exchequer Gate arch (News, 12 March 2021).

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