Written in Stone

We meet Harry Adderley, Director of Adderley Masonry Ltd, a talented and committed mason, whose path in life seemed carved out from a very early age.

Having a mother that was an architect and a father who was a builder, young Harry Adderley was no stranger to building sites and construction projects in his formative years. It was possibly always on the cards that his future life would involve a career that was connected to one of the trades or professions in this arena.

Bloors Manor showing the completed double light window to the right of the arched doorway

Many of us struggle when it comes to choosing our occupation, the answer to the question we’re often asked as children, ‘what do you want to do when you grow up?’ can change almost weekly. So, it’s a fortunate person that finds their path in life early and knows exactly what they want to do.

At the age of fourteen Harry was in Barcelona to play rugby with his school team, when he had what he describes as his epiphany. He went to the Sagrada Familia, Antoni Gaudi’s stunningly beautiful Spanish Gothic cathedral. He was awestruck by the intricacy of the decorative stonework and the sheer magnificence of the building, it fascinated him and at this moment he knew he wanted to work with old and characterful buildings, and his love of stone was kindled.

And it really did set him on his course in life. The initial spark of interest in historic buildings and stonework became a full-blown passion over the next few years. It was a natural progression for him to seek out a way of learning more about the subject, so the next step was to study for an FdSc in Applied Architectural Stonework and Conservation, and a BSc in Heritage conservation at Weymouth University.

The courses were everything he hoped for; he learned how to identify different types of stone, what sort of matrix it is made from, what factors cause different types of weathering processes and how best to consolidate or repair any damage. Along with this vital knowledge of the materials, he learned how to carve and do lettering, and banker masonry, which is the creation of stonework like windowsills and other architectural stonework. Interestingly the term banker comes from the Latin bank, which means bench, and refers to the mason’s work bench. The course also gave him a full grounding in the importance of using traditional materials like lime mortars, and how to make and tend to it for maximum efficiency in any given scenario.

His studies at Weymouth began 12 years ago and after graduating were followed by varied masonry works, building up his experience around the south-east and southwest, and further periods of training, notably a spell at Canterbury Cathedral. He has never lost his enthusiasm for the material he loves, it gets stronger as the years go by.

Bloors Manor dwarf wall under construction

Here is another of the projects that took place at Bloors Manor. This job entailed building a dwarf wall out of Kentish ragstone, all of which was sourced from the property grounds, and probably made up various other parts of the property in years gone by.

Harry has a professional interest when looking at historic and period properties, he finds a fascination in how they were made rather than the overall product, although this of course interests him greatly too. His focus is on elements that would generally be overlooked by most people, such as the tool marks of the masons who worked on the stone originally and in subsequent restoration attempts, or how well the pointing had been done and what mixes would have been used.

Since starting his own masonry business Adderley Masonry Ltd five years ago he’s been very much in demand and has enjoyed working on projects at some very significant historic properties including: Rochester Cathedral, Chartwell, Bodiam Castle and Sissinghurst Castle, and is an approved supplier for the National Trust. One particular recent project was on Bloors Manor in Rainham. The owner had embarked on a restoration of this very picturesque Grade II Listed, 15th Century Wealden Hall House and needed help to rectify the original stonework that had suffered from previous misguided attempts at restoration with cement and thick lead paint resulting in a high level of degradation to the majority of the windows.

Harry and his team set about assessing each window to remove any paint and metalwork and then either repaired or replaced the stone where necessary, retaining as much of the original fabric of the windows as possible, whilst also ensuring they were structurally sound.

Next was to reinstate a window where one used to be that had been replaced by an out of character door in previous years. The job involved removing a section of stonework above the doorway to allow for props and supports to be used whilst removing the door and window next to it without damaging the structure of the building. The existing window was used as a template to replicate a replacement window that would sit alongside it where the doorway had been. The external and internal stonework was built up and using lifting equipment, the new Kentish rag window was installed.

To complete they had to fill in the remaining stonework and point it using a style called galleting, which means to insert chips of stone into the pointing, a style usually only seen in Kent. The result is a double light window removing the later doorway addition and restoring this part of the Manor House to how it originally was.

The owner of the house at the time, Tim Howard was delighted with the extensive works carried out, “Harry worked on our 15th Century Wealden Hall House built by Christopher Blower, undertaking a significant programme of repairs on our stone mullion windows. This included returning an alteration carried out in the 18th Century – making a window into a doorway – back to its original form. The finished result was astonishing, and the entire façade regained its original character. We couldn’t have been happier.”

The team also constructed a dwarf wall out of recycled Kentish ragstone, making good use of stone that was found on the property whilst performing other ground works, and probably made up various other parts of the property in years gone by.

“It feels like I’ve always known I wanted to work with interesting old buildings, they have a character that you just don’t find with new builds. My love of stonework, heritage architecture and its conservation draws me in. I just want to make sure it’s treated well, so it’s restored without replacing anything unnecessarily and it lives on into the future, so everyone can benefit.”

For more info visit: adderleymasonry.co.uk
For a free quote please call 07791233922 or email info@adderleymasonry.co.uk

Other Projects

62 South Road

This project was an insurance job, as the wall in question was hit by a van and had become unstable as a result. The work included removing the vegetation from around the affected area, the taking down the coping stones and stonework to a level that was stable. The wall was then built back using the original stone to the proper line, using a mixture of sharp sand and lime, with the addition of coal as that was present in the original mortar.

St Mary the Virgin, Chiddingstone

On this job Adderley Masonry provided a labour force for our colleagues at Pinacle stonework, to install stone worked and provided by them, with additional labour support, on a window on the north aisle of the church. The stone had dilapidated quite severely and the window had warped meaning each stone had to be individually cut to size to bring the front face into alignment. The old stone was first cut back to the window line, before cutting slots into the stones at various points to insert pins to ensure the stability of the new stones and a strong join between the old and new. A particular mention needs to be made to Steve Hill, director of Pinacle stoneworks, as the amount of setting out required to install this window as each stone was different in size and shape, and the warping of the window was such that the dimensions changed even more to accommodate, but in the end the results speak for themselves.

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