There are 10 hand-carved 18th century statues on the roof of the mansion. Each is almost life-sized.
The most prominent (above the central pediment) are those of the Roman goddesses Concordia, Minerva and Justice, who symbolise Peace (Concordia) being achieved through Strength (Minerva) and Justice.
Stonemasons from Heritage Masonry in Lincolnshire restored the statues in situ on the rooftop during the second main contract of the emergency works programme.
They discovered each statue had originally been brought up to the roof as two partly-carved pieces of sandstone.
The two sections were held together by an inner iron rod and were carved in more detail in situ.
Heritage Masonry found the iron core of each statue had deteriorated over the centuries and the sandstone was cracking.
One of the most unstable was a statue of a woman cradling a baby, sited on the south-west corner of the mansion’s south wing gazing out over the Baroque West Front. It’s thought that the statue is Eirene (goddess of peace) with baby Ploutos (the god of wealth).
The statue had suffered several large cracks and some sections had fallen onto the roof. She is now pinned, repaired and supported by an internal core of non-corrosive stainless steel.
Further research is needed to confirm the identities of other statues on the roof of the mansion. They currently thought to be:
SE – statue of a woman holding a bunch of flowers – Flora, goddess of flowers
SE – possibly a statue of Diana, goddess of hunting, who might have had a bow in her left hand and adornment in her hair, perhaps a crescent moon
NE – statue holding a sheaf of corn – Ceres, goddess of agriculture
NE – statue holding fruit – possibly Venus, goddess of love, holding pomegranates
NW – statue holding apples – Pomona, goddess of fruit and orchards
Extremely heavy urns hand-carved by Georgian stonemasons decorate the roof.
Two of the 18 were found to be 20th century replacements made of concrete.
Weighing 600kg each, many were only being held by their own weight due to their timber pins rotting over time.
They needed to be craned to the ground, a challenging task as the majority of the weight sits in the middle of each urn due to their shape. An innovative scaffold frame was constructed around each urn to secure them when lifting, as well as extra clips added to the surrounding scaffolding to allow the crane crew to clip on and off more easily.
At the same time, the crane crew were also able to remove the historic glass lanterns that required restoration.
Historic England provided tremendous guidance and support throughout.
The restored urns, and two new urns created as exact replicas from matching stone, are due to be lifted back onto the roof in October 2020.