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Right royal makeover for Newton’s Place

Stained glass specialists who work by appointment to HM The Queen have been busy at the Newton’s Place museum and community space project in Newton Abbot.

Conservators Dan Hearn and Gemma Curtis were commissioned to repair windows at the former St Leonard’s Church, Wolborough Street, where building works continue ahead of next year’s opening.

The experts are part of the team at Somerset-based Holy Well Glass which has a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty. Last year the pair were involved in the restoration of Windsor Castle and the Private Chapel in nearby Windsor Great Park. Their CVs also include repairs at the National Trust’s Stourhead in Wiltshire and Winchester Cathedral.

In Newton Abbot they had to remove two broken Victorian stained glass panels including an intricate eight-sided ‘octofoil’ positioned high above street level. The challenge involved chipping away at old lime mortar and freeing the lead-edged glass without causing further damage, all while balanced on scaffolding.

Once out of the frame the windows were carefully recorded, packaged and taken to the Holy Well workshop for repairs before re-fitting.

"The stonework itself was pretty well sound", said 28-year-old Dan whose stained glass career, and the lengthy studies it required, grew out of a job fitting double glazing. "It had obviously had a few mortar repairs beforehand and been modified to allow previous work to be completed but otherwise it was ok."

Gemma, 31 and who with Dan was introduced to The Queen after completing their Royal tasks, said about her life in stained glass: "It’s creative, something different, I don’t want to sit in an office, I’m a very hands-on person and this ticks all those boxes."

Dan agreed. "I can think of nothing worse than being stuck at a desk all day and knowing our work will be on show to generations to come just makes us really want to do the very best job we can."

The photo shows Dan at work in Newton’s Place.

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