Monday, 15 September 2008

The story of a statue.

A few weeks ago a statue – thought to be of St Ambrose – came adrift from the North Porch of Exeter Cathedral and landed on the ground, breaking off the head and the top of the Saint’s staff. There seems little doubt it was a deliberate act of vandalism as the half ton statue was quite firmly in place prior to that.

The statue is assumed to be St Ambrose because there are a beehive and bees by his foot. There is a legend that as an infant, a swarm of bees settled on his face while he lay in his cradle, leaving behind a drop of honey. His father considered this a sign of his future eloquence and honeyed tongue. For this reason, bees and beehives often appear in symbols of the saint's.

Last week I watched as the Cathedral’s head stone mason, Gary Morley, and his assistant, Alex, spent the day replacing the statue and attaching the head and staff. It was a fascinating exercise and in between wandering around the city centre and going around the inside of the cathedral I got photos of the various stages of the process.

I went back the next day when the scaffolding was down and no one could have told it had ever been restored. That's what I call a good job!

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