This survey and report was commissioned by the Bedford Estate as a result of increasing concern at the ongoing loss of the shell, fossil, coral, ceramic and mineral decoration to the interior of this wonderful shell grotto, situated in the children's garden at Woburn Abbey. The intent of the survey was to assess the overall condition of the grotto through a detailed inspection the external and interior fabric and in particular the internal decoration, in order to develop a strategy to stabilise the decorative surfaces along with reinstating a number of fallen elements. The key factors driving the strategy are to make the structure safe for the public and to bring the highly decorative surface back to life through a considered programme of cleaning, consolidating, stabilising and reinstatement.
The images above show the character of the external walls with deeply recessed pointing, and the inclusion of decorative, conglomerate specimens.
The images below show the floor details, a collection of fallen decoration stored on the stone table and the central well (currently covered by a tree stump).
The images below show details of the intricate internal shell, coral and mineral decoration. Iron fixings were used to join the larger elements and are visible amongst the decoration. Copper and Pyrite are among the decorative elements, adding intense colour and reflective surfaces.