Pargetting and Blacksmithing

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.

Pargeting in Audley EndPargeting

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.

forge2Nigel’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.



Fellows in the forge

Hello everyone! As it has been a while since the Scholars and Fellow’s blog was last updated, a detailed and interesting account of our adventures written by the Scholars very own Structural Engineer, Justin McAteer, I thought it was about time to get the ball rolling. I’m going to keep this entry short and sweet as we still have many of our visits and experiences to share with you. As Justin mentioned, the Scholars and us Fellows parted company, allowing us to bond within our own groups and to visit various places, and workshops, and so here is where we will begin.

On the 11th April, 2012 us Fellows, Sam Peacock, Callum Plews, and myself were lucky enough to visit the fantastic Ridgeway Forge, Ridgeway, Sheffield, run and owned by Andrew Renwick and wife Carolyn. The forge specialises in the traditional hand-working of metal, whether it be decorative or general metal work used in on both modern projects or on the conservation and repair of historic buildings. Examples of the Ridgeway team’s work can be found at Waddesdon Manor and Chatsworth House.

With Sam and Callum both being from a stonemasonry background and myself from one of bricklaying, entering the world of blacksmithing was at first rather daunting but luckily for us we were in the very experienced and safe hands of Andrew, and fellow blacksmiths Richard, and Dave. We spent the morning under the watchful eye of Richard and Dave who introduced us to the workings of a forge and some of the materials and tools used including wrought iron, swing hammer and of course the anvil. After a demonstration of the techniques used such as fire welding and jumping up, and the processes involved in the production of everyday items which we take for granted, it was our turn. Some may call it brave, others foolish, but we were let us loose in the workshop.

In the afternoon Andrew took us under his wing, wanting us to create something that involved various processes and techniques we had mastered (I say that loosely). With a ‘little’ help from the Ridgeway Team and after a couple of attempts we created wrought iron snails. Safe to say we all had a fantastic day learning the craft of blacksmithing and finding our way around an anvil and would like to thank the Ridgeway Forge for having us visit and of course Richard who made us each a beautiful chisel. On the way home it was agreed that we would love to pay another visit to Andrew and the Ridgeway team again without hesitation…. That is if they could cope with us again.

Until next time…. Emily.