The Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Exton,Rutland, is of great significance for its fine collection of funerary monuments, some of which are of national significance. While the earliest of the church tombs date to the late 14th century, the most significant monument is the marble tomb of Baptist Noel, third Viscount Camden, by the famous British sculptor Grinling Gibbons. Created in 1685, full-length statues of the viscount and his fourth wife in Roman dress are surrounded by various relief carvings of his 19 children.
While the monument has never been altered, it had deteriorated noticeably over the centuries. In addition to the superficial dust and soot coating the tomb, several pieces of marble decoration had cracked or broken off. The monument also showed visible signs of movement caused by the corrosion of iron pins used to hold the marble segments together.
How We Helped
In 2001, WMF provided assistance through the Robert W. Wilson Challenge to Conserve Our Heritage to determine the extent of conservation needs and develop a treatment program. WMF, in partnership with the Exton Monument Restoration Fund, completed surveys and determined that several pieces of the marble decoration had been lost, the iron pins had corroded and stained the stone, and the joint lines of the pedestals had separated. The entire monument was then dismantled, beginning with all applied marble elements, followed by the main structure, and each piece was cleaned and treated to remove rust stains. Iron pins were removed and replaced with appropriate stainless steel pins to secure elements of the monument and prevent future corrosion. At the conclusion of the conservation work, the monument was returned to public view.
Why It Matters
Grinling Gibbons is widely considered to be England’s finest wood carver, with particularly notable examples of his work found at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Hampton Court Palace, and Petworth House. The Tomb of Viscount Campden at Exton Church is one of his rare works in marble, and is often considered to be his finest work in that medium. The work of WMF and the Exton Monument Restoration Fund ensured that the tomb will be enjoyed and appreciated by the public for many years.