St Paul's Cathedral, South Churchyard Improvements

This project was awarded Award in the Landscaping category at the Natural Stone Awards 2008.

The official guide said, 'While the most important objective for this work was to provide wheelchair access to the cathedral, the resulting desire to re-enclose this section of the churchyard presented the opportunity for a more meaningful display of the medieval remains of the building that was there before the Great Fire of 1666 and a comprehensive re-evaluation of this important open space.

The proposals for the redevelopment were greatly informed by the important archaeology that lies beneath the south churchyard and the works have preserved what remains of the pre-fire masonry with proper protection below ground.

At the same time, the opportunity was taken to tell the story by the archaeological remains to visitors by displaying the form of the medieval Chapter House in its surrounding cloister by means of contrasting stone insert in the paving layout and in the tops of the low walls.

The excavation carried out immediately prior to the project starting revealed that the paving of the cloister was in Purbeck Marble. Although it was not proposed to use Marble for the new paving, alternative Purbeck stones were used.

The cloister paving uses blue Purbeck Feather, which was the closest to the original marble. The remainder of the new paved area uses pale Purbeck Whetson. The cloister wall and buttresses use Purbeck Whetson for the up stand, Purbeck Thornback for the cap and Purbeck Grubb for the inlay, which was produced produced by hand. Portland Basebed limestone has been used to create seating areas that reinforce the other side of the medieval cloister walk.

The stone sizes and joint widths were designed to reflect the historic character and archaeology of the associated spaces. The area of existing Purbeck paving opposite the Dean's Door has been retained in-situ, with careful conservation repairs being carried out to form an accessible, level surface.

To aid interpretation, an inlaid stone plaque was commissioned from Richard Kindersley showing the differing and overlapping alignments of the pre-fire and present day cathedrals. The stone used for this was Purbeck Whethson and Feather with Welsh slate.'

The judges commented, 'This scheme demonstrates a brilliant use of levels and shows how intimate detail, if as well executed as this is, can enhance a small scale scheme. It is a beautifully considered project with light touches set in a large urban scale.'

To view this project in more detail, please click here.

St Pauls Cathedral using Portland Stone