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Clerk of the Works' Blog: July 2015

Gary testing stone hardness at the quarry.
Posted By : Gary Price Monday 27th July 2015

It’s been quite a month again; stone carving courses, filming, festivals and Canons…oh my!

 

Let me break that down a bit for you.

 

We started our second programme of “Have a Go” stone carving courses at the beginning of July with great success, our students made some lovely things and have given some very useful and glowing feedback, so a quick “well done” to those of my team who have done some teaching. Ash Mills captured some of the action in this short film .

 

Also trying their hand at carving their initials were two groups from Sarum Academy who did very well and apart from being the only school to have this experience were also lucky enough to get a tower tour after their lesson and workshop tour.

 

A film crew involved in the creation of a website on William Golding (novelist, Nobel prize winner and former schoolmaster at the Bishop Wordsworth School located here in the Close) filmed one of my masons here, there is a 'behind the scenes' photo in this month’s gallery of Alan looking very rustic. As we still use the same techniques as the original builders of the Cathedral we have all the right equipment easily to hand.

 

The event at the museum as part of the Festival of Archaeology went very well indeed, Lee, my Head Mason, tells me there was a fairly constant stream of people queuing up to try their hand at carving and they had lots of interesting questions so although it was hard work it was very rewarding.

 

Talking of rewarding hard work our apprentice, Christian, has just completed his three-year NVQ in stonemasonry with Weymouth College and now goes into his improver year, during which he will also be undertaking a two-year degree course with the CWF (Cathedrals Workshop Fellowship) that will see him graduate in November 2017. I know he will do well in that; he has a fantastic attitude to the work and a real talent, he has done us and himself proud as our apprentice.

 

In another seamless segue I took Christian and our labourer, John, with me when I last went up into the spire to change over more lamps to LEDs in the interests of fire safety. They both have now crossed that off their bucket list and there are pictures in the gallery, including ones of them looking out over the horizon from the weather door - very intrepid!

 

I was asked to give the long-listed candidates for the Canon Treasurer’s post a tour of the workshops as part of the appointment process recently, once appointed they will be my line manager so I made sure they all had a good look round. Sarah will be a hard act to follow when she leaves to be Bishop of Crediton, but I have high hopes having now met the candidates.

 

Our peregrines should be taking their leave of us soon too, only a few more weeks until they will all be going off to make their way in the world, but all being well the parents will be back with us next year.

 

As those couple of eras come to an end we start a new one with commencing mould cutting on MRA5, which means there are stones getting ready to be sponsored. If you would like to leave your legacy please follow this link for more details, it’s been very popular so far with many already spoken for, so you may have to decide fairly quickly!

 

As work continues on the MRP my team are having a small lull in involvement in the Magna Carta anniversary celebrations, but we’re also very conscious of soon having to step forward again for preparations for this year’s flower festival, 'Magna Flora', which, without giving too much away yet, will involve us (not literally) swinging from the rafters with ropes and bamboo, not to mention using scaffolding poles and boards that my carpenter, Richard, will be fashioning into…well, you’ll have to wait and see but the things that chap can do with scaffolding poles and boards are legendary here. On a side note about flowers there's also the latest picture of the Grow Wild seeds in the garden, they're rocketing up! My PA has put a list from the Grow Wild website up of the flowers that were in the seed mixes and we're crossing them off as they bloom in our I Spy books (just to show my age).

 

I took our new Architect, Izaak, with me down to the quarry to select our next batch of stones, he took a picture of me testing one block, which I hadn’t realised until he sent it to me! Within minutes of it being taken I’d jumped down and landed on a much smaller stone, from which I sustained what can only be described as a severe injury. No, really, it was, so much so that I’m taking a couple of weeks off now to recuperate in Lyme Regis. I’ll be fine, but it really did hurt.

 

We had a lovely barbecue here in the Works Yard with Sarah to see her off with even the Dean taking time out to pop over and join us. We are going to miss Sarah very much, she has been an incredible mentor for me and has worked closely with us as a department to help us with future plans with great success and has really given us a firm foundation to build on, which is very fitting if you think about it. I’ve put photos in the gallery that will hopefully give just a little flavour of the party and you can see what we made for her. 

 

Now, as I've mentioned, holiday beckons, everyone stay well until I'm back and we'll reconvene next month...