As Leonardo Da Vinci said, details make perfection. We would not dream of claiming perfection, but we always aim for the best possible quality when carrying out our works.
An example of the difference made by details can be seen as progress is made to re-gild the decorative details within our Victorian Bridge Chamber and medieval Bridge Chapel, which are both Grade II-listed. Before this work began, they looked nice enough as interesting focal points in a number of different rooms. However, they also looked a little dull when contrasted with the newly-painted walls.
To bring them up to scratch with the rest of the décor, local craftsman Mick Pollard has been hard at work. You may recognise his name from his work a few years ago, to restore the weathervane on top of Rochester Guildhall.
Having learnt his craft while an infantryman studying at Brompton Barracks, Mick left the army to become a full-time sign writer. Since then work has taken him to many illustrious venues connected with royalty.
Among the work carried out in the Bridge Chamber was the restoration of our coat of arms at the top of the stairs. Installed during construction of the Chamber in Victorian times, this striking item looked good but was in need of proper care and attention. Here you can see Mick sanding off the flaking paint. Next he gradually built up layers of paint to create the effect you see on the finished item.
Elsewhere in the building he worked on some historic plaques within the Courtroom of the Bridge Chamber. Mick commented that these items were incredibly detailed, with filigree work that was so thin and consistent a needle must have been used to scratch out the lines of paint to reveal the gold underneath. It was a technique he had not seen before, and he was clearly impressed.
In the Bridge Chapel, he was tasked with restoring the series of coats of arms that adorn the wall above the altar. These coats of arms are understood to have originally been on the outside of the 1735 façade of the Bridge Chapel, which was removed shortly after the Victorian Bridge Chamber was constructed. Mick’s work involved the total repainting and gilding of the items using enamel paints and 23ct orange gold leaf at double thickness, or palladium leaf on the silver items because it is of a better quality than white gold and does not tarnish.