Court Room Royal Coat of Arms, St Albans Museums
This project involved the conservation and replacement of broken and missing stone elements from a Royal Coat of Arms, restoring it to its original appearance. This required limited paint research to identify whether any early or original paint schemes existed, and the creation of a new unicorn horn.
This beautifully-carved Coat of Arms takes pride of place in the Court Room of the Grade II* listed St Albans town hall, sympathetically refurbished to house St Albans Museum + Art Gallery. Following periods of being empty and temporarily re-purposed over the years, the building suffered some neglect, and the Coat of Arms suffered with it. An assessment prior to conservation revealed previous damage and repairs, including the application of thick, discoloured adhesive between breaks, loss of elements and imbibed layers of dirt and non-original paint splatters.
Selective sampling of the paint and stone substrate enabled paint research to be undertaken, indicating that no decorative paint schemes survived. Removal of the disfiguring dust, dirt, thick adhesive and paint accretions could then take place, using a combination of mechanical means and steam cleaning. Apart from the stubby, broken remains of a replica horn cast in resin, the unicorn horn was missing. The replica piece was used, in association with archival research, to establish the size and shape of a replacement, which was modelled, cast and reattached.
Threaded-stainless steel dowels were cut, and inserted into the fractured pieces, to take some of the weight and ensure strong joins were created between the pieces. These dowels were adhered using polyester resin to ensure adequate strength, but the fills between each piece were undertaken using a reversible material to enable removal and exposure of the dowels for future removal if required.