Cleaning and Conservation, December 2014
The main entrance doors to St Mary’s Church, Totnes have now been cleaned and minor repairs carried out; they were then treated with a wax finish and polished.
The work was carried out by Cameron Stewart of Hugh Harrison Conservation (www.hugh-harrison.co.uk), based in North Devon. Hugh had surveyed the doors earlier in the year and declared them to be of major significance and most likely to be the original doors fitted to the church when it was built in around 1456, during the reign of King Henry the Sixth.
The upper half of the doors, although thought to be original, have been damaged by what looks like worm but in Hugh’s opinion is shot of some type. Further work would be needed to extract what appears to be bits of metal from these holes. A repair of one section has been carried out at some stage by inserting a new carved section and it was noted how well it had been stained.
The lower half of the doors had been repaired sometime around the 16th century. The reason for this repair is unknown.
Cameron, whilst carrying out cleaning, noted that on the edge of the right-hand side, as you enter the church, there was damage which in his opinion indicated that at some time there could have been an attempted break-in using a jemmy or crowbar.
The doors were cleaned as part of a major cleaning and refurbishment of the porch and entrance to the church by the Fabric Committee, with the intention of making it more pleasant and welcoming both to the congregation and to all of our many visitors.
The work on the doors was supported in part by a grant received from the Totnes Town Council, an anonymous contribution from a frequent worshipper and a donation from the Friends of St Mary’s. We are also hoping to receive some help from the Devon Churches Historic Trust.
Martin Harvey, churchwarden
• photographs are by Martin Harvey
• click the images to enlarge
• more about Friends of St Mary’s here