The largest gargoyle to be replaced on Salisbury Cathedral for more than 150 years has been lowered into position and fixed on the Chapter House roof.
It completes the replacement work on this section of the Cathedral’s Major Repair Programme which itself is now over three-quarters complete. Matt Barton, one of Salisbury Cathedral’s nine skilled stonemasons, was given the opportunity to carve the new gargoyle replacing one which was badly weather damaged and no longer fit for service.
He said: “It was a really interesting project, and very satisfying to see the new gargoyle emerge from the original block of stone. We removed the damaged gargoyle from the Chapter House in February and mended it so I could use it for reference.
"The new gargoyle is modelled on it but with an improved design so hopefully it can better fulfill its purpose and achieve maximum long term survival. Replacing a gargoyle is very rare. Two smaller ones were replaced on the cathedral’s West Front in 1998 but none have been worked here since.” The Chapter House, built in the 1260s, remained untouched until Gilbert Scott’s major re-ordering of the cathedral in the 1850s-1860s. In his desire to improve the way water was disposed of from the building, Scott carried out a re-ordering of the roof and gutters, extended the buttresses and introduced new style gargoyles.
These replaced the down-pipes and hoppers in the corners of the original buttresses which is the way water had been disposed of until then.
There is also a medieval gargoyle in Chilmark stone on the untouched buttress on the west face of the Chapter House. It is in poor condition, decayed and totally non-functional, but is being left in position for its historical interest. Salisbury Cathedral’s Major Repair Programme Current work is centred on the north east transept area of the building and the Chapter House, home to the finest of the four remaining original 1215 Magna Carta. Now over three-quarters complete the Major Repair Programme needs a further £7 million to ensure its final completion, for which the Cathedral is dependent upon successful fundraising by its Development Department.