The Reredos: St Michael and All Angels, Stewkley (2015)

26 November 2015
Polychrome & decorative surfaces
Project value:
£11k - £50k
Project length:
3 weeks

The Reredos: St Michael and All Angels, Stewkley (2015)


“Very many thanks for your excellent conservation report, which I am looking forward to studying in detail. I very much enjoyed working with Lee. He was great to have with us at St Michael’s and his conservation work is being much admired. I am personally very pleased as Fabric Consultant to the PCC to have approached you to carry out the initial survey and even more pleased that they accepted my recommendation that you carry out the conservation when the funds became available.”  John Sheldon

“Everyone felt that the report was most comprehensive and would, in particular, like you to pass on our thanks to Lee for all his hard work and conscientiousness whilst with us.”  Geoffrey Ring, St Michael’s PCC

The Work:

The programme began with structural investigations to look at movement and its causes;   the decision was then made to extensively dismantle parts of the reredos in order to remove the iron cramps.  These were found to be heavily corroded, and no longer adequately supported the backing panels of the reredos, leading to significant structural instability.  

Above: Corroded Iron cramp situated behind the dexeter roundel.

The central section had been rendered with a sand/ cement mix; this was removed in order to reveal the 12th century rubble walling, which was damp to the touch, but dried out significantly once the render had been removed.  The levels of moisture recorded reaffirmed to us that the iron fixings had also been subject to long term moisture exposure leading to corrosion, volumetric increase and overall loss of structural integrity.

Below: The exposed rubble wall of the central section

Once the fabric and structure had been carefully unpicked and deciphered, the rebuilding began.  This involved fixing with stainless steel pins set in plaster of Paris, and the provision of air gaps to ventilate the reredos.  

Below: The dismantled tiles, taped and carefully labelled ready for rebuilding.

    Below:  The new stainless steel fixings

A careful cleaning, surface repair and protection programme was then executed, the lift the reredos and protect it into the future.



1.The central section of the reredos repaired but with the painting in of the surface repairs yet to be carried out.

2. Nearing completion of the painting in.  The wide range of acrylic colours needed to achieve this can be seen below the roundel

3. Lee Hargreaves working on the reconstruction of the reredos.

Below: the reredos after the conservation programme with repairs to the surface almost undetectable.