Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rosslyn Chapel: The Shed Is Off! is reporting that the steel shed roof and scaffolding that covered Scotland's Rosslyn Chapel for fourteen years have at last been removed, and the 15th century chapel can finally be seen in its full glory. The temporary covering was installed in 1996 when massive leaks in the chapel's 1950's era asphalt roof were discovered, causing extensive deterioration of its detailed carvings. The ceiling and walls were permeated with green algae, and an earlier, misguided attempt to stabilize the sculpted interior by covering the stonework with a thin wash of plaster resulted in trapping the moisture even further.

Now, thanks to the massive crowds brought to the chapel in the wake of Dan Brown's novel and the subsequent Hollywood film version of The Da Vinci Code, a new watertight roof has been installed, landscaping has been tidied up, and a new visitor's center constructed.

See Rosslyn Chapel's resurrection revealed.

Visitors had to clamber up a steel walkway to get a close look at the building, which will have newly landscaped grounds in the next few weeks to celebrate its restoration.

The grounds of the chapel may still resemble something of a building site as the building is still halfway through the £9 million programme, but the trust responsible for its upkeep heralded yesterday's removal of the last major scaffolding from the chapel as key milestone.

Colin Glyne-Percy, director of the Rosslyn Chapel Trust, which started planning the refurbishment in the wake of a surge in visitors after the success of Dan Brown's 2004 novel and the subsequent Tom Hanks blockbuster movie, said: "It's a hugely exciting moment for us. No-one has had a proper view of the building for 14 years as the protecting covering had to be kept in place for so long to ensure the original roof was dried out, while we put a fundraising plan together.

"We went right back to the original stonework to ensure it was fully restored and the new watertight roof ensures that the roof is properly preserved underneath. We think the removal of the canopy structure and the scaffolding will generate more interest in the chapel.

"We had just 40,000 visitors a year before then, and although it reached a peak of 175,000 visitors we still had 136,000 through the doors last year, and we can still attract 1,100 visitors on a good day."

By next spring, when a new visitor centre next is due to be unveiled, the chapel's stained-glass windows and organ will be fully restored, and new heating and lighting equipment will have been installed. By the end of the following year, all the stonework in the building will have been repaired.

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