Medieval Pavement in Lichfield Cathedral Library
July 12, 2018 | By Hirst-Conservation |
Lichfield Cathedral library is a unique space with a rare example of preserved medieval floor pavement. We were thrilled to assist architect Robert Kilgour and Greenwood Projects with the proposal to make the library accessible to a wider audience by initially undertaking a condition assessment of the floor tiles followed by conservation treatments to the tiles within the main room of the library.
Although little is known about the history of the library pavement, it is believed to date from ca. 1300 and is hugely significant. The decoration of the tiles is varied, showing simple geometrical and heraldic images to more unusual figurative decorations such as mystical animals or the depiction of a mermaid holding fish.
The general condition of the tiles, given their age, is remarkable and any damage/deterioration recorded was mostly confined to small and isolated areas. The majority of damage is associated with historic impact damage and general wear and tear through usage. In addition, loose and unstable tiles were noted where bedding mortars had failed, often linked to the position of hot water pipework servicing the cast iron radiators.
The aim of the treatments undertaken was not to restore or replicate areas of loss or missing decoration but to stabilise the current condition and to prevent further damage prior to the installation of a protective floor covering system. The approach was based on minimum intervention and no attempt was made to repair missing sections of tiles, where this was not required for conservation purposes. As such, the repairs are clearly discernible from the original material with no intention of imitating the original material.
The conservation treatments included removal of loose material from joints, surface cleaning of tiles, re-fixing of loose fragments, consolidation of friable areas to the tile clay body, lime-based mortar repairs to vulnerable edges, existing out-breaks and losses, securing loose tiles by re-setting and grouting as well as repairs to failing pointing mortars.