Magdalen College, Oxford – Stone Cleaning and Lime washing

Inspire Conservation would like to share one of our main summer projects with you.  It was at Magdalen College, Oxford and included selected stone repairs, extensive stone cleaning and lime washing of the cloister walls in a colour matched pigmented limewash.  The college was founded in 1458, the cloisters being built in 1474 alongside the old library and other buildings.  The buildings are highly decorated with bosses, grotesques and gargoyles and was executed under the mason William Orchard.  Famous alumni include Oscar Wilde and C.S Lewis!

The work was completed over a ten week period while the college was quieter for the summer break but we were very much in the public eye.  The walls were investigated by Lisa Oestreicher, paint sample analyst, to conclude that there was a modern paint layer underneath some of the more recent limewash applications.  As there was a major rebuilding of the cloisters in the early 1800’s there was a continued maintenance and redecoration of the whole area which included cement repairs, both Portland and Roman, modern paint and traditional paint finishes.  We undertook the task of restoring the traditional finishes to the four passages.

The work included removing the modern paint films with Restorative Techniques acrylic paint removers, filling the surface damage and repairs of other stones with St Astier Lithomex repair mortar and then redecorate the whole cloisters with Yellow Ochre Buxton Finest Limewash.  All of the stonework including the window tracery, internal door jambs and other delicately carved items were cleaned with various poultices and chemicals  to remove hundreds of years of dirt, grime and carbonation.

The project was a great success and Inspire Conservation are proud to have been involved on this prestigious site.  The team worked exhaustively to keep within the required time frame and produce the best finish on all surfaces.  The work is sympathetic and reflects the historic quality of the college without removing patination and the overall charm and character of the building.

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