The Friends and Volunteers who have been associated with the Chapel for some time or who have a particular area of expertise usually take an interest in one area of the Chapel's activities and maintenance. These vary from specialist cleaning to maintaining the bells to providing guided tours. Bigger projects which require a substantial amount of funding are undertaken. Previous ones have included the restoration of the 8 bells. We are now undertaking the two projects detailed below.
Servicing the Organ:
This organ was built by Henry Willis & Sons of London in 1898-1900. It is consequently amongst a select group of organs in which 'Father' Willis might have had a hand - he was the greatest organ builder of his generation and considered the 'Father' of the profession.
The organ has not been serviced to the extent of dismantling and cleaning out the pipes since at least the 1980s. Many repairs in the Chapel have happened around it, and this needs to be done whilst also removing dents in pipes, dealing with broken reeds, and repair to the damaged blower.
This work is regarded as immediately necessary, in 2017 if possible, and the Friends are leading the fund raising for £5,250 to do this.
The Friends launched a public appeal in September 2017 for £5,250 to achieve these repairs and cleaning. All the money has been raised through refresments and donations at concerts during the autumn and, crucially from an individual benefactor. The work has now been programmed for March 2018
Conservation of Reredos:
The reredos on the East wall is the stone arched backdrop to the main altar. It was designed in 1852 by John Brown of Norwich, the Diocesan Surveyor, and built by a local mason, William Browne. In 1904 it was enhanced by the insertion of paintings by Hardman & Co into the niches. They depict Our Lord centrally with the Virgin Mary and St John on either side; St Nicholas is to the left, and Bishop William Turbus (the founder of the Chapel) to the right.
The paintings are suffering from gradual detachment from their backing and consequent cracking, as well as the dirt of some 110 years, and the surrounding stonework is also degrading and losing surface paint.
A conservator of paintings has reported on these panels; experimental research will first be needed to rediscover how the canvases are stuck into the niches. In addition the less noticeable two stencilled panels on either side of the altar are in very poor condition, and complete restoration of all the artwork is estimated at £20,000. However, it is clear that the painted stonework is also losing paint in large flakes, and a stone conservator has been appointed in 2018 to assess why this is happening, and how to conserve and restore it. We anticipate that public fund raising will start in the summer 2018.