Shrine Restored

Freemasonry in Hertfordshire is happy to support the Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban. This wonderful building is situated in the centre of the province and hosts our biannual service of thanksgiving. Recently George Laverick, the clerk of works has been involved in the Restoration of the shrine of St Amphibalus.

The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban has long been famous for its fully restored shrine of England’s pro martyr, St Alban. With the completion of the new multi million pound visitor centre, attention was turned to the last major part of the project. The restoration of the shrine of the priest who converted Alban to christianity in the third century AD, St Amphibalus. 

Dean Jeffrey John set the task to interested parties to get the project underway. The new Cathedral architect, Kelley Christ, compiled a short list of suitably qualified contractors, and after much examination a contract was awarded. Next, digital photography and drawings were undertaken to record every single feature of the structure, because bricks were used in the Victorian ‘temporary’ reconstruction in every section of the columns there was no defined height to record. 

After the removal of some historic asbestos cladding to the rear of the Shrine a scaffold was erected to enable some of the heavy sections to be lifted out safely so the dismantling could be started. 

A considerable amount of time was spent in preparing the stones from the ‘tomb chest’ the bottom third of the structure, light cleaning, removing cement and excess shellac from break surfaces ready for repair and shellac overspill from the original surfaces. Five stones were taken from the Cathedral stone store to assess their suitability for incorporation into the Shrine. 

The shrine plinth, much strengthened with additional steel mesh, was completed along with the kneeling steps. The Shrine plinth arrived, and a test set out was done so workers could see the first sight of the new addition and it certainly didn’t disappoint. Having been returned to the Cathedral, the original stones for the tomb chest were installed. With a lot of patient attempts and precise setting out, the chest was then packed with bricks, mortar and more steel. 

Then the covid pandemic hit and the project was paused for a while. George looks forward to showing groups of Freemasons around the Cathedral and particularly this perfectly restored Shrine in the future.