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St Mary’s Church, Iffley

Visitors to the SEAHA mobile heritage lab at St Mary’s Church, Iffley, said, ‘We thought the stones lab was brilliant!’ ‘Such a great idea and so appreciated by all of us!’ They were intrigued to find themselves exploring state-of-the-art technology, excited to be able to ask questions about the microscopes and relieved to be able to consult experts about the care of the stonework and carvings on this 850-year-old building. We owe Professor Heather Viles, Dr Scott Orr and all the research students our warmest thanks for their hard work before and during the visit, and for welcoming us into the lab with such genuine enthusiasm.

Well over a hundred visitors of all ages came to the Mobile Heritage Lab at Iffley Church. The team’s obvious passion for their subject encouraged wide-ranging questions, the most urgent being about how best to protect and preserve the 12C sculptures on the exterior of the church. Was the somewhat startling shelter-coat that was re-applied in 2017 really the best way of looking after our heritage? The answer was a convincing Yes, and the Strachey firm was uncompromisingly described as setting the Gold Standard for stone conservation. The SEAHA team was voted as ‘a communicative and enthusiastic collaborator on our engagement events at Iffley Church’.

For us in Iffley we gained a real insight into what stone is – what it is made of and how it breaks down. This is a never-ending concern for us. The shelter-coat will need renewing in 30 years time. Thank you, SEAHA, for helping us engage with this responsibility with a much deeper understanding and with delight.

Penny Tyack Activity Co-ordinator, Living Stones Education Programme St Mary's Church, Iffley 26 July 2019

Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology