Restoring Peal Boards

Richard Offen richard.offen at
Sun Apr 1 23:40:34 BST 2007

--- In bellhistorians at, "Martin Jones" 
<martinjones1260 at ...> wrote:
> Scenario:	a 100 year old peal board is gradually decaying due 
to its
> location in the tower - over time, sunlight has damaged the shellac 
> to the extent that it will "soon" (in 5-10 years!) be impossible to 
read the
> text on the board. It's too late to move the board out of the 
direct light,
> the damage has been done.
> What experiences do people have about restoring boards? We have 
received a
> quote from a local signwriter to strip the board's surface and 
recreate the
> lettering, but do we a) need to contact EH, b) get a faculty? What 
if we
> didn't actually tell anybody about this? Could we get in trouble 
for going
> ahead and doing the work without getting permission? Our incumbent 
> supportive but has suggested that we find out what other towers 
would do in
> this situation.
> Any thoughts? We have a number of other boards from the 19th 
Century that
> also need similar attention...
> thanks
> Martin Jones
> St Nicholas, Harwich, Essex

If you have the board stripped and the lettering repainted, you might 
just as well buy a brand new board, as the exisiting one will have 
lost all historic significance.

Firstly you need to move the board to stop the deterioration, then 
you need to contact a paintings conservator (your DAC will be able to 
advise you on a suitable contractor) and get advice.   You should 
also carefully record the board photographically.

We had two eighteenth century peal boards conserved at Canterbury 
Cathedral many years ago.   They were in a similar condition.   The 
conservator carefully removed the varnish and cleaned the boards.   
They came up beautifully and surpassed our every expectation.



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