Replicating the Abbey
Some of the most interesting features of Westminster Abbey are the hidden architectural details which you might not notice at first glance, such as the vaulting bosses and carved pillars. To bring these pieces to life, and encourage people to take a closer look at the Abbey, we have created two replica models.
The first model depicts a centaur fighting a winged dragon (or amphisbena, a dragon with a smaller head on its tail), and is based on a roof boss of the mid- 13th century in the Muniment Room – one of three that retains its original colouring. These bosses form a join between the vaulting ribs of a roof and were often elaborately carved with religious figures or mythical scenes. The Green Man, or wild man of the woods, is from the Quire screen and is part of a design by Edward Blore that was put up in 1834. This symbol of a man’s face in foliage appears in many forms in English churches and is said to represent eternity or rebirth. A green man could also be a guardian of doors – possibly why it was included above the entrance to the Quire.
These resin models have been made by History Craft, a UK company based in Cirencester. To begin the process they were given photos of the carvings in the Abbey, which they then gave to their stonemason who carved a replica by hand. Their stonemason has years of experience working in cathedrals helping to produce carvings and restore original pieces. The carving process takes around 4 to 6 weeks depending on the intricacy of the piece. They take this length of time as it is incredibly difficult to include so much detail on an object of this size. Once the carved original has been completed, a silicone mould is made from it which is used to create the resin models. Carved Originals
Each resin model is made from a mix of 50% poly resin and 50% Portland stone dust which is combined with a catalyst to make it set. The stone dust contributes to a realistic stone finish so that the resin models more closely resemble the carved originals made by the stonemasons. Once the mix has been poured into the moulds it is put into a vacuum chamber which sucks out all the air to ensure there are no air bubbles when the model sets. Once this is finished they are left to set, which takes around half an hour to forty five minutes. Silicone Moulds
Once removed from their moulds, they are polished on the back and a hole drilled so they can be hung on the wall. There is also a treatment applied to the surface to make the finish look more like natural stone; once completed they are boxed and ready to be bought, a recreation of Westminster Abbey’s rich history.