Repairs to Chichester’s Market Cross to start next week

Market Cross, Chichester
Market Cross, Chichester

Work to repair Market Cross will start on August 31 or September 1, the city council has confirmed.

The project will see the reinstallation of the stone orb and weather vane to the top of the monument’s crown section at a cost of just under £29,000.

Together with specialist stone cleaning and stabilisation work, the restoration will take around 10 weeks to complete.

Peter Roberts, property manager at Chichester City Council, said the work would make a big difference to the monument, although it would still retain an appropriate ‘patina of age’ .

“It will look a lot better. Hopefully it will keep it going for a few more hundred years,” he said.

“The last time anything major was done in terms of restoration was in the 80s, so it’s a significant project.”

The stone orb and accompanying weather vane were removed in 2014 after the supporting structure began to crack.

Artwork on the weather vane was worn away, but a chance meeting lead to the design being restored to its former glory by Ian Harris, who had painted it 30 years previously.

Historic England will be monitoring the work, which includes a specialist ‘Doff cleaning’ process using a mist of pure water to avoid damaging the surface of the stone.

Peter added: “It’s a pretty complex job really.

“I suppose people may think that cleaning stone is just like getting out your pressure washer, but you can’t do that with a scheduled monument.

“It has to be done in a very delicate and gentle way.”

The monument is believed to have been built in 1501.

Plans to restore the Cross have been discussed for months, but all proposals had to be agreed by Historic England before the city council could put out a tender for the work.

Peter said the company chosen for the project, Traditional Stone Ltd, has already cleaned the stone work on the 18th century Council House.

Scaffolding will be fitted to the structure while work is carried out, with a narrow edge on South Street to avoid disruption to traffic.

He said: “There’s been a lot of work put into this project, so it’s very nice to see it kicking off.

“We were keen to have it start this year, we would’ve liked to have it start earlier but because of the process we have to go through, that wasn’t possible.

“You can’t fast track it, it just takes the time that it takes.”

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