St John's College, Oxford

It was terrific to see the Swaledale Fossil columns finally in place in the Canterbury quadrangle at St John’s College, Oxford.

It is a testament to the skill of the stonemasons at Dunhouse that each column was made from a single piece of stone and measures 2100mm tall. The diameter of the columns is 349mm at the centre, reducing to 308mm at the top, accounting for the entasis.

The original columns had begun to fail structurally, ruling out a cosmetic repair. Once it was clear the columns would need to be removed, architect Wright & Wright and the Beard team set out to find the right replacements.

As a listed building the aesthetic of the new columns had to be in keeping with the rest of the building but the site where the original stone was quarried closed long ago. The stone for the original columns was Bletchingdon marble and was mined locally.

By working with stonemasonry specialist Szerelmey, our very own carboniferous limestone, Swaledale Fossil, was identified as the best replacement.

Beard project manager Jonathan Brock said: “It is a massive honour to be entrusted to work on a building of such huge historical and cultural significance. As the columns are vital for the structure, it was crucial we found the perfect stone."

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