Conservation Project - Heart of Oak
Detail of one Sandford Orleigh Screen panel
A Carved Putto is not just for Christmas!
Hugh Harrison's conservation workshops are full of winged puttos and cherubs, as well as sea monsters and strange 'goat ladies'!
Newton Abbot Curator and the Conservation Officers from Teignbridge District Council, accompanied Cllr Philip Vogel, to see how the conservation of the Sandford Orleigh Screen was coming along.
The impact of the original wood carvers skill hit us all straight away. Liz Cheadle has cleaned all the thick layers of varnish off the panels and the result is quite remarkable. All sorts of forms, faces and swirls have been rediscovered.
Laurence Beckford has the difficult task of re-carving a support for the screen that only exists within old black and white images of the screen, when it was in situ in the house of Sandford Orleigh, Newton Abbot. He has discovered a Glaistig or Fuath, a mythological figure from Scotland- a goat lady! He has begun the painstaiking process of creating a clay carving prior to re-carving it in oak. When it has been carved in wood the image will be uploaded to the website for all to see
Heart of Oak restoration carving
Examples (below) of Laurence Beckford's amazing carving to restore and replace carved panels for the Sandford Orleigh Screen.
Heart of Oak Update Day
On the 22nd March 2012 a Heart of Oak 'Update Day' was held at Forde House. The Deputy Mayor, Cllr Mrs Anne Fry, gave a formal welcome to all those attending the event.
The morning was organised for the public as well as the Museum Friends Group (which now stands at 160 members) and was very well attended. The attendees were shown elements of the conservation process used by conservator Liz Cheadle. The public were then invited to 'have a go' at cleaning a small portion of the actual 16th century carvings themselves. This was a unique opportunity for them to handle and conserve a 16th century screen,
The morning continued to hold the public's interest and enthusiasm for the subject. Laurence Beckford demonstrated his great resotration carving skills, showing the group how he is sympathetically re-carving elements of missing sections within the carved panels.
These demonstrations were followed by fascinating presentations given by members of the project team. Hugh Harrison, Conservator, gave a presentation of his most recent National and International conservation work.
Dr Nicholas Riall, Historical Researcher for the project, updated the audience with his most recent historical research on the Sandford Orleigh screen. Rounding the morning off, Kate Green, the projects Arts Coordinator, gave a colourful photographic presentation of all the arts-related workshops that she has organised for the project so far, explaining all the contacts with the local groups that have been established through the project.
Over one thousand members of the public have been connected with the Heart of Oak project, this includes audience numbers of the talks given by the museum curator as well as all the people attending targeted and public open arts workshops.
More information about the Heart of Oak Project can be found at:
Heart of Oak Project update - November 2011
The Heart of Oak Community workshops are up and running!
Workshops began in October with local schools learning about story-telling and puppetry with artist Tony Gee, and his mentee Anna. Bearnes School had a very creative day, writing imaginative stories about the wood carvers who created the panels and the messages they immortalised in their work. The children then made puppets of the characters from their stories and gave a performance to the school at the end of the day! All the fun was filmed and will be edited and uploaded to the website soon.
Puppet making workshop
A community group formed from the Museum volunteers and the Museum Friends group have been felt-making with artist Carol Timms. The group were inspired by the designs within the screen to create their own, 21st century felt panels. Wood carver Doug King-Smith helped people turn their hand to wood carving on Wednesday, 12th October at the Clock Tower with people of all ages having a go at carving for the first time. He will be working next with family groups to create designs that once again relate in some way to the carving on the Sandford Orleigh Screen.
Felt Making workshop
The conservation process of cleaning the screen is "progressing well" says Hug Harrison and his team.
Conservation Process Conservation Process
Heart of Oak Project update - August 2011
The Heart of Oak project team travelled to the edge of Exmoor to witness the un-boxing of the Sandford Orleigh Screen in July.
The panels of the screen were ‘dismounted’ from the frame they had been held in since the 1830s. The wooden pegs were taken out to they had been glued into the space between the panels and the frame to hold them tight. Each of the panels where carefully removed. The shapes and forms, the heads and fruits, the animals and leaves all came to life. All these designs will be brought to life by the conservators, craftsmen and researchers as they start their work.
Liz Cheadle, part of the Hugh Harrison conservation team, has been working hard during the summer season cleaning and removing layers of thick brown varnish with pungent chemicals to reveal the Tudor carvings beneath. It was impossible, before, to see the carvings beneath all the layers of varnish, it is fascinating to see the details of the carving slowly emerging after all these years.
The Heart of Oak workshops will begin in September and dates of the open public workshops will be posted on the website very soon.
Contact: 01626-201121 to find out more details.
The Heart of Oak Project
The Heart of Oak Project has commissioned a Specialist Timber Conservator and an Art Historian/Researcher.
Hugh Harrison - Specialist Timber Conservator has been commissioned to restore a magnificent renaissance carved oak screen donated to the museum in a damaged condition in 2008.
Throughout the project there will be opportunities for the public to hear Hugh speak about conservation in general, and the restoration of the screen in particular. For more information and regular updates go to:-www.heart-of-oak.info.
Hugh Harrison's Devon craftsmen are currently conserving one of the oldest doors in the country at Little Hormead, Herts made in 1150. Other projects include the Great Gates made in 1520 at Trinity College, Cambridge, an ancient doorframe of a similar date at Rochester Cathedral, and the panelling at the Cafe Royal in London.
Nicholas Riall is a Researcher currently working as a consultant on a Renaissance projects at Cotehele in Cornwall and St Cross in Winchester.
Dr Riall has been commissioned to research the origins of the design, choice of symbols and characters depicted on the carved panels of the Tudor screen, and possibly even the name of the maker.
The historic research of the screen will be of great importance to the whole project, as it will help to feed hitherto unknown facts to the artists running the arts related workshops, as well as helping to create new, informative exhibitions detailing the life of the screen.
AND!! ...... A free 'taster-day' for the workshops was held at Hannah's at Seale Hayne, Newton Abbot, on 17th July in the Great Hall.
130 people attended the workshops, they learnt about the history of the carved oak screen and how the project had started and how it gained funding, and they then went on to try their hand at the colourful art of felt making, and clay casting, digital photography and animation. All ages from young families to more mature individuals all enjoyed themselves. At the end of the afternoon all said they were keen to join in future workshops.
The Heart of Project team is in the process of developing the future workshops which will begin in September this year.
Some of the workshops will target special groups; schools etc, but there will be ample opportunities for the community at large to become involved with the project.
Dates for the workshops open to the public will be advertised on this website and on the Heart of Oak website www.heart-of-oak.info as soon as they have been finalised.
If you would like to become a Heart of Oak volunteer we would be very happy to talk to you!
The Newton Abbot Museum Conservation Project
HEART OF OAK PROJECT: The Restoration of the Sandford Orleigh Screen
The Heart of Oak Project is a bid to restore a Renaissance screen and, in doing so, help to broaden the knowledge and skills of the whole community of Newton Abbot.
This rare Renaissance screen of very finely carved wood was donated to the Newton Abbot Town & GWR Museum in 2008. The screen consists of sixteen panels and is thought to date from c.1534. Although the screen was originally housed in St Leonard’s Chapel in Newton Abbot, the panels have secular designs.
When the nave of the Chapel was demolished to widen the road in 1836, the panels were purchased by a local industrialist, George Templer. He used the Renaissance panels to embellish the main chimney breast of his grand residence in Newton Abbot - Sandford Orleigh.
The carved wooden panels were held within a framework of supporters and caryatids. Each panel is unique and contains cornucopia designs and images of pipers and profiles of faces within roundels.
The screen, if it could talk, would have been witness to many interesting conversations beneath its carvings. The Victorian explorer Sir Samuel White Baker, who discovered one of the sources of the Nile, retired to Sandford Orleigh and the screen would have been admired by guests to the Baker’s home, including Edward, Prince of Wales and Gordon of Khartoum. Gordon succeeded Baker as Governor of the Khartoum region and he spent his last night in England with the Bakers in 1884.
The screen has been saved from destruction by George Templer in the past, and it falls to us to save it from future deterioration now. Once it is restored it will be displayed in the Town Hall Council Chamber.
The public will have access to this important historic carving for the first time in 174 years.
If you would like to save an important piece of Newton Abbot's history, your donation would be gratefully received.
Please contact the Museum for details of payment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A certificate will be sent to you in recognition of your donation.
More information can be found at the following web-site: