Specialist conservation works to protect the face of Lincoln Cathedral

The West Front of Lincoln’s Cathedral has been receiving specialist conservation work to its historical features as part of a National Lottery Heritage Fund-backed project.

Works include utilising high tech laser cleaning, structural and non-structural pinning repairs, and repairs to the masonry mortars on areas of the Cathedral such as the Gallery of Kings, a 14th century stone carving depicting 11 kings.

Lincoln Cathedral’s works department, a team of highly-skilled and specially-trained professionals, has, since 2016, been delivering the works and has racked up a staggering 93,000 working hours on the West Front alone.

To enable the carving to be cleaned without being damaged, laser cleaning is used to remove carbonate and sulphate pollution that builds up on the surface of the stone over time, creating dark patches.

This conservation technique allows the dirt to be removed without abrading the stone surface itself.

Carving halfway through being laser cleaned.

Different treatments are also employed by the works department team for the masonry and mortar repair work, with each area that requires attention being carefully assessed by the specialists and the appropriate method of restoration and conservation work being used.

The Romanesque Frieze – an intricate, 12th century sculpture depicting a series of biblical narratives – is receiving the same laser cleaning and repair treatment, with identical copy carvings being produced for the Cathedral’s new exhibition centre, due to open later this year within the new visitor centre.

The final part of the five-year conservation programme is to clean and conserve the West Front’s oldest feature; the Great West Doorway, which dates back to the 12th century.

Following the completion of all these works, it is expected that the West Front will not need major conservation for another century.

Michael Sheppard, director of works and property at Lincoln Cathedral, said: “It is an honour to see the vital conservation works to the West Front continue on schedule.

“These are the first substantial works to the West Front since the 1980s, and by implementing innovative and cutting-edge conservation practices and techniques, it will be protected for decades to come.”

“Lincoln Cathedral is significant in different ways for so many people in the UK, but especially the city of Lincoln and the local community that view it daily.

“Knowing that we are employing the best treatment techniques and methodology to the iconic building is vitally important and an absolute privilege.

“The members of our incredibly hard-working works department team are using their specialist skills to invest back in to the building and as a city, we are very lucky to have such a skilled and sizable team on hand to protect our biggest historical asset.

“Without this skilled work, tragically our Cathedral and other fine examples of historical architecture across the country would descend into ruin.

“The complex and meticulous conservation work to the Gallery of Kings, Romanesque Frieze, Great West Doorway and niche and gable will protect them for future generations.”

Works to the West Front are just one part of the wider £16.5m project, which has seen other vital restoration and conservation work carried out on the Cathedral’s Parvis, Cloister Wall, Eastgate Wall and 13th century Exchequergate Arch.