Dean’s Eye Window repairs – Lincoln Cathedral

The Dean’s Eye rose window, the North Transept of the cathedral is one of the most important examples of medieval stained glass in Europe.  Began in 1220 and completed in 1235. Work started in 1990 and latest for 12 years on the largest restoration programme anywhere in Europe, the previous restoration of a window of this size was to south transept window of the Notre Dame in Paris. The Lincoln window has been part of a £2 millions restoration programme.

We have been working in conjunction with Lincoln Cathedral for several years to restore the wrought iron Ferramenta to a number of the cathedrals magnificent stain glass windows. Most of the original 800 year old medieval ironwork, or Ferramenta, has been conserved, the original iron work was restored in our North Yorkshire workshops. Considering the age of the frames there were remarkably few repaired needed considering they were 800 years old. To have such a complete collection rings and cross bars is extremely rare. Although the Ferramenta is no longer used to support the glass it is mounted on the window in front of the medieval glass.

The first metal windows were made from wrought iron by medieval blacksmiths. These simple frames were glazed with either stained glass or clear leaded lights, and were mostly used for ecclesiastical buildings and major country houses whose owners were among the few people who could afford them. At this time, leaded lights were also installed direct to masonry or wood, and secured with copper wires to vertically or horizontally fixed metal bars known as ‘Ferramenta’ or ‘Saddle Bars’.

From the start of construction to the present day, the Cathedral has needed a lot of looking after. It takes a very special team of skilled workers to protect a building so complex and important.  Lincoln is one of only a few Cathedrals in England to have its own workforce dedicated to the conservation of the building.

Each part of the Cathedral has its own team of specialists. To preserve stone and sculpture there are the Masons, Carvers and Sculpture Conservators.  The windows are conserved by the Stained Glass Conservators.  The roofs are restored by the Lead workers and Joiners.  Traditional craft skills are used with modern technology to ensure the life of the Cathedral for the next 900 years.

Skills for the Future – The cathedral is involved in a training partnership with Lincolnshire County Council, made possible by a grant awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  The project, which will be carried out over the next five years, will allow the Cathedral Works Department to offer a total of ten traineeships, in stonemasonry, carpentry/joinery, and lead work.  Each trainee will have already achieved NVQ Level 2, and the programme will enable them to attain NVQ Level 3 in Heritage Skills, ensuring that traditional craftsmanship is maintained at a high level that our ancestors mastered. We are Topp & Co are involved in a similar scheme for the historic ironwork in this country.

Client: Lincoln Cathedral

Year: 2010

Material: Wrought Iron