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Restoration of Medieval Doomboard

Restoration of Medieval Doomboard

Conservation/Restoration Award Highly Commended 2007

Location: Chippenham, Wilts
Building Owner: Dauntsey PPC
Architect: Andrew Townsend Architects
Builder/Main Contractor: Ward and Co
Joinery: Ward and Co
Wood Species: English Oak

St James is a grade I listed mediaeval village church with 12th century origins.  The most important fitting is the rare survival of a ‘doom’ scene (depicting the Day of Judgement) painted on a timber boarded tympanum, dated by dendrochronological analysis as the last quarter of the 14th century, and mid-16th century. It was originally located above the Chancel screen but was moved first to the Chantry Chapel, then to the west end of the North Aisle until 1994 when it was removed for conservation.

Following stabilisation of the painted decoration and the original oak boards a scheme was devised for re-mounting the doomboard above the Chancel screen.  Joinery consultant, Hugh Harrison, was appointed to analyse the existing boards and advise on appropriate configuration of boards within the overall composition as well as providing notes/drawings for an outline specification for the design of supporting framework and system for fixing the boards.

The client was keen that it should be treated as a living object (rather than as a series of ‘archaeological’ fragments) fully integrated into the current architecture of the interior and ‘read’ together with the rood screen at the east end of the Nave.

Areas of the painting where whole boards were missing were filled with oak boards, pit-sawn to give a texture corresponding with that of the original boards.  Other ‘missing’ areas (the central horizontal area and the margins of the painting) were filled with lime plaster on split oak laths.  The whole of the painting was mounted on a new frame in seasoned oak designed to provide fixing points for the original boards using existing holes in the boards or clips located at the board edges, all without making any new fixing holes, etc in the boards.