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Conservation Skills Training in a Norwich Church

For the last year and a half, a team of volunteers has been steadily cleaning and polishing ledger slabs in St George’s Colegate. Guided by a skilled conservator, the group has brought together members of the congregation who work in partnership with volunteers from The Norwich Historic Churches Trust (NHCT) and The Matthew Project, a charity based in the parish, and which works with recovering addicts.

We were trained initially by a professional conservator, Deborah Carthy. She and I had worked together on a volunteer scheme in Newcastle Cathedral, and we were both keen to offer our time and experience. Such schemes can provide skills, training and routes to employment and can thus attract external funding.

We set up an initial training week in partnership with the NHCT and The Matthew Project. Deborah taught a team of us how to gently clean out inscriptions, remove years of dirt and grease from the slabs, and then to apply polish which can be regularly buffed up. Within 3 days we saw amazing improvements in the ledgers and commitment to continuing the work.

Our volunteer team meets fortnightly for a couple of hours, and we provide skills training for young and old. After 15 months we have cleaned and polished about three quarters of the slabs in the church and we are looking ahead to a more challenging project: cleaning and repairing the wall monuments, which will provide more specialist skills training.

Thank you to volunteer Jane Kennedy for writing this post and time in supporting this incredible project. Feedback from all our members involved in the project has been very positive.

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