Clarence Hall Gems – No 4

Posted: 30th July 2022

The Clarence Hall is not only a lovely old building, but it is also a classic example of Victorian architecture and decor.  Thanks to Hall Trustee and Director, David Jeremiah, we’re looking at several of the “Clarence Hall Gems”, as we call them.

As the Hall is refurbished over the coming months, every effort will be made to retain its unique character by way of removing, refurbishing and reinstating original fittings.

The front facade of the Hall is the Gem to seek out this month.

As explained previously, the Hall’s design is a mixture of Gothic Revival and Arts and Crafts.  True to style, our Victorian architect ensured that the Clarence Hall had the required sharp, and interesting, gothic outline.  He did this by making all the quoins, capping, and corbels (corners and edges) out of sculptured cream Oolitic Limestone.  This was the expensive option.  It made the Hall lovely to look at but a nightmare to maintain!

Oolitic limestone is made up of small spheres called ooiliths that are stuck together by lime mud. It formed millions of years ago when calcium carbonate was deposited on the surface of sand grains rolled (by waves) around on a shallow sea floor. Oolitic limestone was loved by the Victorians as it is hard, resistant to erosion and come in a variety of colours. It also has an even structure and can be cut or sculpted in any direction.

Unfortunately for us our limestone has started to degrade.  Go and take a close look.  You will see how the weather has got into the joints and the frost has caused some spalling.  Its reclamation is for the specialist and will be expensive.  Consequently, our approach will probably be to first halt the degradation.  We can then seek targeted funds which will allow us to either recut the surfaces or undertake repairs.