Client: Dover District Council
Completed: April 2022
Category: Scheduled Monument Ruins, Local Authority
Contract Duration:
Architect: Purcell
What we did...
  • Restoration & Conservation
  • Stone Masonry
  • Facade Cleaning
  • New Stone Carvings
  • Flintwork & Brick Restoration

The team at USL were commissioned to carry out vital restoration works to the Grade II Listed, Scheduled Monument Ruins of St James Church in Dover.  It was a pleasure to collaborate alongside English Heritage, Dover District Council and Conservation Architects Purcell, on this important conservation project in the heart of Dover.

This Norman church was built in the 11th Century and known as ‘Dover’s Tidy Ruin’ standing at the end of St James Street, at the foot of Castle Hill.  It was badly damaged in both WWI & WWII with the church tower collapsing c1950s.

The remaining monument has some excellent examples of Norman construction including the west wall’s fine Norman round-headed doorway with zigzag pattern.

The main purpose of the conservation programme was to stablise the existing structure focusing on the North Tower (internal and external), West Elevation with high level masonry work.  The preservation of this Scheduled Ancient Monument was of the upmost importance with a sensitive approach to preserve the historic fabric wherever possible and to strengthen the existing structure with close control to reuse and keep in place the original materials.  Our teams utilise traditional stone masonry techniques and carving whist replacing weathered and damaged sections with new blocks and stone.

Services provided included;

  • Stone and masonry cleaning and removal of organic growth.
  • Repairing and conserving masonry.
  • Cutting out defective stonework dressings, coping, corbels and indent.
  • Re-weather defective wall cappings.
  • Raking out defective stonework and carrying out sensitive fine repointing.
  • Carrying out restoration to fractured ashlar stonework including resin pinning spalling.
  • Rebuilding of unstable masonry including rubble and flint work.
  • Mortar repairs and careful cement removal (previous Victorian surface pointing utilising sand and cement mortar has done considerable harm to the walls) Our expert team used traditional hand tools to sensitively remove joints and carry out re-bedding works.
  • Reinforcement of mortar repairs with austenitic stainless-steel wires.
  • Repairs to brick and block walling including sympathetic repointing with special importance to preserving the colour, texture and general character of old brickwork and stonework.

It is rewarding to see places of architectural significance conserved and repaired to help regenerate local communities and ensure preservation for years to come.

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"It’s been a very exciting time for the stonemasonry team at Universal Stone to collaborate alongside Dover District Council on this important conservation project at the Grade II Listed, Scheduled Monument Ruins of St James Church in Dover.  To preserve this exceptional example of Norman construction, our teams utilised traditional stone masonry techniques and hand-carving whist replacing weathered and damaged sections with new blocks and stone."

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