Recently we have been doing some restoration work developing experience in re-carving old and worn lettering, mainly headstones.

 

It is a sensitive area of work and there are many decisions to be made as to whether a stone should be restored or conserved and if work is to be done then to what extent?

 

In the example shown here, a family gravestone in St John at Hampstead Churchyard, a plan was drawn up between ourselves, the grave owner and the Parish Council as to what work was to be done.

 

The aim of the project was to make the text on the stone legible as due to time and weathering the text was so worn that only a few letters could be picked out.

 

We had a consultation with a stone conservator to ensure that the stone was sound and would withstand removal from site and transporting.

 

Using a transcript of the text (from an inventory of the memorials in the churchyard which had been made in 1979), rubbings of the stone and rubbings and photos of lettering taken from similar stones in the graveyard, we put together a detailed drawing of the proposed re-carving of the Westall stone.

 

The memorial was removed and taken to the studio where the work was carried out and then refitted by a registered monumental company.

 

This type of job is particularly interesting because the design has to incorporate the idiosyncrasies of the of C18th carving, which are apparent in places, and replicate them where they are not apparent but expected.

 

The overall result is a stone, which reveals the history of a family once again, but as far as possible does not appear to have been restored.

 

William Westall was the first Western artist to paint Australia, and this is why the stone is particularly important. You can see the restoration before and after restoration.