Category Archives: 2015 Year of Conservation

Roundel Conservation


The roundels at Falkland Palace are part of James V’s alterations and

One of the roundels being prepared, ready for conservation.

One of the roundels being prepared, ready for conservation.

building work, completed in 1541. James had spent time at the French court (as well as having two French wives) and he employed French masons to work on the palace. He was hoping to recreate some of the splendor of the French court here in Scotland, and he employed the French master masons Moses Martin and Nicolas Roy to create the glorious roundels you see at the palace today. The roundels are also significant as it is rare to have five carvings and portraits of females. Although the roundels of the South Range are currently hidden behind scaffolding whilst they undergo conservation, you can still see their companions on the ruined East Range.

The palace at the end of last year before the scaffolding was erected and work began.

The palace at the end of last year before the scaffolding was erected and work began.

All the roundels are made of sandstone and appear to have been build face-bedded into the building (rather than naturally-bedded). This means that the surface layers of the stone have deteriorated over time, in a process similar to the peeling of layers from an onion. Unfortunately, the surfaces of four of the heads have already been completely lost. However, the aim of the current conservation (part of our Year of Conservation at the palace) is to consolidate the roundels and prevent further loss and deterioration.

Roundel before conservation showing signs of decay through age and acid rain damage.

Roundel before conservation showing signs of decay through age and acid rain damage.

The first phase of conservation of the carved stone roundels on the South Range was from 7th-10th April. On the first day, the condition of the roundels was recorded  and over the next few days some previous filler was removed. Below are some examples of the recording techniques used to document the stone (all the pictures were taken on the first day before any work began).

Conservators record of the Margaret Tudor roundel.

Conservators record of the Margaret Tudor roundel.

30 times magnified image of an insect infestation in the sandstone of one of the roundels.

30 times magnified image of an insect infestation in the sandstone of one of the roundels.

30 times magnified photograph of the actual surface of the sandstone.

30 times magnified photograph of the actual surface of the sandstone.

The roundels were then sprayed with Ethyl Silicate, a substance which helps to strengthen the stone. From 13th-29th April the roundels were then completely covered in order to protect them from the rain and sunshine. This gave the Ethyl Silicate time to set.

Application of the Ethyl Silicate.

Application of the Ethyl Silicate.

Today, 30th April, the roundels have been uncovered. The stones are now much stronger and the next stage, lasting until 15th May, can begin. Old filler, which has weathered, will be removed and a lime-based grout will be used to fill in air pockets and voids. For the outer wreath shaped decoration, where stone has already been lost, T-shaped ceramic supports will be added, as well as thin stainless steal rods where necessary.

Removal of old filler.

Removal of old filler.

If you visit Falkland Palace over the coming weeks, you will probably see the conservators on site working on the final stage of conservation. The finished work will be unveiled in November. This process will help to ensure that the roundels are preserved for future generations.

 

Advertisements

History and Conservation of the Stained Glass


James VI and Anne of Denmark

James VI and Anne of Denmark

All of our stained glass windows at Falkland are heraldic and late 19th century. They were commissioned by John Patrick Crichton- Stuart, the Third Marquess of Bute. The Chapel and Tapestry Gallery windows were commissioned in 1893 and installed in 1894, with the windows in the office and private apartments (currently hidden behind our scaffolding) installed a little later in 1897. Bute also renovated the rest of the palace (look out for the carved window shutters and door in the Keeper’s Dressing room of his children and a portrait of himself) and completely rebuilt the Cross-House.

Most of the windows in the Chapel and Tapestry Gallery are in pairs of husband and wife; James IV appear alongside Margaret Tudor, James V appears next to his second wife Mary of Lorraine and so on. However, poor Magdalene of France (James V’s first wife) is all by herself in the Ante-Chapel, and the Dauphin of France, Francis II (Mary Queen of Scots first husband) is isolated in the Vestry. Equally, look out for some very lonely people in the windows of the stairwell just beyond the Tapestry Gallery. Lord Bute has included the arms of David, Duke of Rothesay (who mysteriously died at the Falkland in 1402, possibly at the hands of his uncle, Robert Stuart) and the lovely Isabel Countess of Fife, who died childless and passed the 13th century Castle (the ruins of which can be seen in the gardens today) to her brother-in-law, also Robert Stuart.

The Chapel. The stained glass look glorious on a sunny day and creates the most beautiful patterns on the chapel floor.

The Chapel. The stained glass look glorious on a sunny day and creates the most beautiful patterns on the chapel floor.

Sketch by H.W Lonsdale for window of Mary Queen of Scots and Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Image courtesy of National Trust for Scotland Archive.

Sketch by H.W Lonsdale for window of Mary Queen of Scots and Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley. Image courtesy of National Trust for Scotland Archive.

The cartoons and sketches for the windows were drawn up by Horatio Walter Lonsdale, however, the idea behind their design came from Lord Bute. The windows copy a manuscript known as the Lindsay Armorial, published in 1542. It is a register of all the heraldic arms and shields of the aristocratic families in Scotland, as well as members of the Royal family. Sir David Lindsay was also the court poet for James IV and James V, and would have stayed at Falkland when the Royal Court was based at the palace, so the choice of his armorial is especially fitting.

Equally, Lord Bute was very keen to make sure the windows were historically accurate. When you visit the chapel, look at the wall directly opposite the windows and you will notice that Bute has copied some of the 17th century wall paintings (look just above the tapestries), which depict windows with diamond-shaped glass. The plain glass in the windows in the Chapel and Tapestry is all diamond-shaped to copy these wall paintings. At Bute’s other homes, such as Castell Coch or Cardiff Castle in Wales, the plain glass behind the figures or shields is far more complex, often with patterned geometric shapes. Hence, at Falkland it looks as if Lord Bute has chosen to follow the diamond-shapes (known as quarry glass) for a particular reason.

The cement which holds the windows in place being very carefully removed, ready to lift the window free!

The cement which holds the windows in place being very carefully removed, ready to lift the window free!

However, if you have visited the palace recently will have notice that some of our stained glass is missing. The panels are currently in Glasgow undergoing conservation work. The windows were surveyed last year and it was decided that a little tender-love-and-care was needed. Some of the windows were deformed and bulging inwards or outwards. This is caused by the lead

Royal badge of James V in the office (currently hidden behind all our scaffolding). You can just about make out that the window is bulging inwards and has caused some of the glass to fracture.

Royal badge of James V in the office (currently hidden behind all our scaffolding). You can just about make out that the window is bulging inwards and has caused some of the glass to fracture.

between the window panes stretching and putting stress on the glass, causing fractures. However, this happens naturally and gradually over time. A few windows had these cracks within the glass panes and will be mended with a glass resin (you will hardly notice it when re-installed!), which works like a very strong glue to hold the broken glass together.

The windows in the chapel need minor resin repairs, which will be performed with the windows still in place. If you are lucky you might get to see some conservation in action on one of your visits to the palace! All of the windows will also be cleaned as, like your windows at home, they end to get a bit grubby over time.

The Palace hidden behind scaffolding. We now have some information boards and signs up telling you about the conservation to make it a bit more interesting.

The Palace hidden behind scaffolding. We now have some information boards and signs up telling you about the conservation to make it a bit more interesting.

As scaffolding was needed to access the glass, the we decided to have a full Year of Conservation (the stained glass will not be re-installed until November) and work on the historic stone roundels on the exterior of the palace at the same time. Inside, the painted ceilings will also be restored. The Royal Commission for Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland is also going to carry out a survey of the palace over the summer, as the scaffolding means easier access to those usually hard to reach places. We will be posting more information as the year progresses, letting you know what happens and talking to the conservators. Equally, keep an eye out for conservation talks and family workshops.

Stained Glass Window Conservation Begins


Our Year of Conservation is well under way. First up are our beautiful stained glass windows. The process of removing the panels began this week. It’s a delicate job with these precious works of art and every care is taken to ensure they are kept unscathed. They are due to be cleaned up and restored before being returned back to us even more stunning than before. We are looking forward to seeing them sparkling new!

stained glass

The panels before removal looking in need of a good clean!

Removal of stained glass

One by one, each panel is carefully detached and stored

Easy now! The glass safely stored in the van on its way to being cleaned up

Falkland Palace and Gardens Year of Conservation


2015 will be a year of conservation at Falkland Palace and Gardens with lots of exciting projects with conservation work taking place on some of our stunning stained glass windows, painted ceilings and stone roundels (similar to the Stirling Heads).

You can keep up to do date with all the happenings here as we chat to the conservators, give you lots of photo updates as well as information on talks and family workshops.

CeilingRoundlesstained glass

2015: Falkland Palace Year of Conservation


2015 will be a year of conservation at Falkland Palace and Gardens with lots of exciting projects coming up over the course of the year. Conservation will be taking place on some of our stunning stained glass windows, painted ceilings and stone roundels (similar to the Stirling Heads).
You can keep up to date with all the happenings here as we chat to the conservators, give you lots of photo updates as well as more information on talks and family workshops.