Heritage

Incredible conservation work at Lincoln Cathedral by some of the finest stone carvers in the country has almost been completed, with the Romanesque Frieze exhibition set to be on display at the new purpose-built visitor centre.

Martin Coward, Tim Crawley, Andrian Melka and Alan Micklethwaite are nationally renowned stone carvers and among the best in the country, and they have been working on the copy carvings that will form part of the Romanesque Frieze exhibition at the Old Deanery visitor centre.

The final adjustments are being made for the purpose-built exhibition gallery, which will give visitors an up close and personal glimpse into the historic stories behind the Romanesque Frieze.

Copy carvings of the original Frieze, which can be found on the West Front of the building, will be on display in the visitor centre. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

The carvings are replicas of the ones already up on the West Front, which will soon be scaffolding-free for the first time since the mid-1980s. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Construction began on Lincoln Cathedral’s West Front in the late 11th century. It is believed the series of high relief panels running from the north-west corner of the Norman West Front, known as the Romanesque Frieze, were carved between 1120 and 1160.

The sculptures convey scenes from both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and are so impressive given the small number of Romanesque sculptures still surviving in England.

The original carvings are believed to date back to the 12th century. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

Applying the finishing touches. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

After being commissioned in 2018 thanks to National Lottery funding, the Dean and Chapter was given the opportunity to have two copies of the Friezes, one on the West Front itself and another to be put on display in the new exhibition centre.

The works will be the final milestone in Lincoln Cathedral’s £16 million National Lottery funded project, which has included landscaping of new external spaces, conservation works to the cathedral’s West Front, constructing the visitor centre itself, and improvements to the 13th century Exchequergate Arch.

The carvers have years of experience and come with national recognition. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

It should be ready by the end of January. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

As a result of all the work, the West Front will soon be scaffolding-free for the first time since 1986, allowing the public to see such masterpieces as the gallery of kings sculptures on the cathedral walls.

Speaking to The Lincolnite in December 2021, director of works and properties at Lincoln Cathedral, Michael Sheppard, said: “It’s a huge honour to work on a project of this scale and magnitude, it’s a really unique opportunity particularly for a cathedral.

“For many of us here it is a career highlight, as these kind of works won’t need to be done again for another 100 to 150 years.

“I might be biased but this conservation work is world class. It is completely bespoke and whatever we do has an implication, so it’s really important that we maintain the original fabric with as little intervention as possible.”

The level of detail makes the copy carving a very difficult job. | Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

| Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

An arts champion nominated for Freedom of the City in Lincoln has said culture and heritage are “enormously important” to the area.

Lord Patrick Thomas Cormack said he was “honoured” to be nominated to receive the award.

A meeting of the City of Lincoln Council’s Full Council will vote on Tuesday on whether or not to give him the Freedom of the City in recognition of his “contribution to the rich heritage of the city, and advocating for Lincoln on the national stage”.

Lord Cormack told the Local Democracy Reporting Service he would not want to presume he would be given the award.

However, he said: “I am very honoured to think that I have been nominated and it would be a great honour to be a Freeman of the City of Lincoln.

“I am particularly grateful to those who have nominated me, but I must now wait and see what happens.”

Lord Cormack, who sits as chairman of the Historic Lincoln Trust, has helped to bring a number of exhibitions to Lincoln including Lincolnshire’s Great Exhibition, the Battles and Dynasties Exhibition, the Victoria and Albert Exhibition and the Doomsday Book display.

He was nominated by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire Toby Dennis, supported by Mary Stuart CBE.

Asked of the significance of arts and culture to the city, Lord Cormack said: “They are enormously important because we have one of the greatest of cathedrals in Lincoln.

“I’ve known Lincoln Cathedral all my life virtually, 75 years, it’s the most wonderful cathedral in the country.

“We also have one of the finest small art galleries in the country in the Usher.”

He added he was glad to be involved in the work of the castle.

“It’s my strong desire to continue to be involved,” he said. “I hope to be able to play my part in some spectacular exhibitions which will bring people to Lincoln in their many thousands as the Doomsday Book did in 2017.”

The Freedom of the City is given to individuals or groups who are considered to have “rendered eminent services to the local area”.

The City of Lincoln Council is to honour the chairman of the Historic Lincoln Trust Lord Patrick Thomas Cormack with Freedom of the City.

Documents before Full Council next Tuesday said the nomination was “in recognition of Lord Cormack’s contribution to the rich heritage of the city, and advocating for Lincoln on the national stage”.

“Lord Cormack is a champion of the arts and heritage in Lincoln, being instrumental in several large conservation projects and in bringing world class exhibitions to the city,” said the report.

The Freedom of the City is given to individuals or groups who are considered to have “rendered eminent services to the local area”.

Lord Cormack (Conservative) was nominated by Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Lincolnshire Toby Dennis, supported by Mary Stuart CBE.

The report outlines how, as Chairman of the Historic Lincoln Trust, Lord Cormack was “responsible for securing a substantial donation for the creation of the PJ Ross Magna Carta Vault as part of the Lincoln Castle revealed project and was also instrumental in securing much of the match funding for the ongoing Lincoln Cathedral project”.

It highlights a number of exhibitions which have come to Lincoln due to his work, including Lincolnshire’s Great Exhibition, the Battles and Dynasties Exhibition, the Victoria and Albert Exhibition and the Doomsday Book display.

“Each one bringing thousands of people from around the world to our city,” said the report.

“Lord Cormack works tirelessly for the benefit of others, giving much of his time and energy to the city.

Conservative Lord Patrick Cormack and former Labour Lincoln MP Karen Lee at a Red Arrows Event in the House of Lords. Photo: Steve Smailes for The Lincolnite

He is also Patron of the International Bomber Command Centre, Deputy High Steward of the Cathedral, Vice President of the Tennyson Society and a member of the University of Lincoln Court.

In recent years, Lord Cormack has also spoken out about changes to the Usher Gallery.

A Conservative, he has been involved in Government since 1970, originally elected to the Cannock seat and then taking on both South West Staffordshire and South Staffordshire.

He sat in the House of Commons until 2010 and in the House of Lords has sat on the EU Environment sub-committee, the Lord Speaker’s Advisory Panel on Works of Art and the Ecclesiastical Committee.

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