Adrian Perkins (Founder of Cambridge Traditional Products) and I recently traveled to Ipswich, where an old friend of Adrian's, Ian Molloy, has been using our beeswax polish to renovate some beautiful 19th century oak carved choir stalls.
St Mary-le-Tower as it stands today was built between 1850 and 1880. It is believed to be the fourth church building on the site, having previously been a wooden Saxon structure, a stone Romanesque church and a fifteenth century rebuild.
The current Victorian church was built around the older chancel arcades, and as the guidebook points out, was designed to be the grandest in the town. Visually impressive, it is the only church in the town with a spire, and is decorated with much ornamental stonework and clad in locally knapped flint.
The choir stalls Ian is currently working on were carved from local oak in 1872 by Theodore Phyffers. They are decorated with depictions of musical angels and the 12 apostles.
Ian is an oil painter, and is using his artists brushes to clean the wood and apply the polish with an incredible attention to detail. This is probably the first time the carvings have actually been polished since the 19th century! Many years of dusting have led to a large amount of dust being compacted into the recesses of the carvings, making painstaking work for Ian.
I was intrigued to see how much detail there is in these carvings that you wouldn't even notice under normal church lighting. In the normal day to day business of the church, much of the work that craftsmen such as Phyffers did would go unseen, yet there is no less attention to craft and detail in the out-of-sight recesses.
It seems quite fitting that the 19th century English Oak in this Church renovation project is being restored and enhanced with our traditional beeswax polish which is faithfully made to a 19th century recipe.
If you are involved in renovating historic buildings like the St Mary-le-Tower Church renovation then get in touch as we may be able to support your project by donating some beeswax polish. Find out more.