Swaledale Columns

Swaledale Fossil Columns
Canterbury Quadrangle, St John’s College, Oxford

The columns in the quadrangle at St John’s College, Oxford 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 down long ago. The stone for the original columns was Bletchingdon marble and was mined locally.

By working with stonemasonry specialist Szerelmey, a carboniferous limestone, Swaledale fossil, was identified as the best replacement. As the stone is not commonly used in Oxford, approval from Oxford City Planning Department and Historic England had to be sought. After passing these approvals, the stone was quarried and worked to shape.

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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