Abseiling stonemasons check Bath Abbey’s west front

There has been a somewhat unusual sight at the West front of Bath Abbey over the last couple of days. A team of stonemasons were abseiling down the Abbey to carry out a condition survey – at a height of approximately 25 metres (82ft).

The stonemasons from SSHC (Sally Strachey Historic Conservation) were examining the stonework including the Abbey’s famous ‘ladder of angels’ to check for any damage and to identify any potential health and safety concerns. Any problems will be photographed and checked for soundness and then removed if necessary.

The Abbey said the survey is part of routine maintenance and it only expected to find minor wear and tear. Every five years, every church building must be inspected as part of a ‘Quinquennial inspection’ to ensure the building is kept in good repair. The work is being done on ropes to avoid spending tens of thousands of pounds on scaffolding.

Alix Gilmer, Bath Abbey’s Footprint Project Director said “We have a responsibility to ensure the Abbey is regularly maintained and looked after, including those hard to reach areas like the top of the West front!  We’re grateful to SSHC’s conservators for their expertise and hard work.”

James Preston, stonemason and SSHC (Sally Strachey Historic Conservation) director: ‘’We regularly inspect the Abbey and other prominent historic structures in the city in order to maintain its fantastic condition. Roped access allows us to do this quickly, efficiently and regularly, without the inconvenience and cost of fixed scaffolding.’’