The conservation work at Reading Abbey is technically fascinating. One of the more visible aspects, even from the outside, is the soft green capping on top of the walls. This has been introduced as the best way to protect the fabric from the affects of rain.
Restorations in the past used a hard mortar capping to the top of the walls. Water ran off the top and down the walls which caused damage. However before that the walls were covered with creepers so that in places it was impossible to see the stone beneath.
After one restoration to prevent flints from falling, a letter was received by the Reading Mercury in 1871 suggesting that flowers be planted in the walls. They said a ‘correspondent’ recommended [ref 1]:
… the new plastering be hid with a sprinkling of mould to serve as a bed for the growth of beautiful wallflowers.
Turf on top of the walls provides insulation in winter and absorbs water, so reduces damage. The grass used was previously the lawn and so is habituated to the microclimate of the Abbey. Sedum has been placed along the edges as it is more drought resistant and may replace grass during dry weather. This method of protection requires annual inspection to check that buddleia and other damaging plants do not become established.
- Reading Mercury 8 May 1871 – The Abbey Ruins
- Reading Abbey Revealed
- Turf cappings at Reading Abbey
- Three days to go before Reading Abbey re-opens
- Two days to go before Reading Abbey re-opens – Did monks play at Rabson’s Rec?