Master stonemason Brendan Teasdale is gearing up for a heavy duty mission over the next three weeks.
He will be carving a block of sandstone, measuring 4ft by 5ft, as part of restoration work at the National Trust’s Seaton Delaval Hall in Northumberland.
It will replace a cornice stone 40ft up on the hall which was found to be faulty earlier this year after the building was covered in scaffolding and masons could carry out a close inspection.
Brendan is a director and head mason at award-winning Teamforce Restoration of Blyth, which specialises in conservation jobs and has been working on the hall since 2011.
He said: “The cornice piece had already been pinned to no avail. It could not be repaired in situ so the decision was made to take it out in pieces, and replace with new stone.
“The new cornice will be carved from a block weighing about 850 kilos, which gives an idea of how big the stonework in the hall is. The block is absolutely huge and aspects of the job will be a logistical nightmare.”
Brendan and his understudy Brian Ellison will be working on the block, which was quarried in Northumberland. Brendan will be creating leaf designs and a lion’s head on the stone, with carving taking place upside down for techncial reasons. The finished block will then be craned into poistion.
Brandan said: “Every conservation project is both a challenge and interesting and over the next three weeks I won’t be getting much sleep.
“Until your mallet chisels into the stone you don’t know how it is going to go. I think about what the masons of the past have created and I have to replicate that.
“You are not building anything - you are trying to conserve history.
“Seaton Delaval Hall is close to my heart. It is a fabulous monument on my doorstep and it is a privilege to be working on it.”
Justine James, operations manager for the National Trust said: “This is a really exciting step in the work we’re doing with Burridge and Teamforce Restoration to consolidate the hall.
“It will go a long way towards stabilising the stonework, helping to keep the building standing, and also gives people the chance to come and seeheritage skills in action.
“We have a close partnership with the stone masons as there is so much work to do here.”
The current project, Saving the Central Hall, has been funded by the SITA Trust.