by Tyrone Oakley
The Scholars and Fellows were recently in Audley End near Saffron Walden, Essex working on an unlisted 18th century house. Bill Sargent, a master pargetter, showed the group around the site. Bill and his team had carefully removed all the cement render from the property and were given the artistic freedom to put a banner of pargetting around the entire building. The client chose the images and symbols. What was most impressive was how little time it took Bill and his team to make the client’s ideas a reality.
Later that week the group arrived at the Fransham Forge where Nigel Barnett, artist blacksmith, introduced us to blacksmithing, forges and the use of blacksmithing in conservation. Nigel creates decorative and functional hand forged metalwork, including sculptures, architectural metalwork, ornate iron gates and traditional ironwork for historic buildings. He heads up the team of highly skilled metal craftsmen at his forge in Great Fransham.
Nigel’s forge was incredible and all of his staff were very knowledgeable and welcoming. We had a go at making a coat hook and Nigel gave us a demonstration, producing a leaf shaped keyring from a bar of iron. We definitely all have a deeper understanding of metals and their use in conservation after visiting Fransham Forge.