Only once – every five years – will you have a chance of seeing a human ‘climbing’ the ladders on the West Front of Bath Abbey – which must be one of the most photographed facades of any building in the city.
The men harnessed to the ropes dangling over the facade are members a team of stonemasons from Sally Strachey Historic Conservation who have started a week-long inspection of the stonework.
They will be abseiling down the Abbey to carry out a condition survey – at a height of approximately 25 metres (82ft).
The stonemasons from SSHC will be examining the stonework – including the Abbey’s famous ‘ladder of angels’ – to check for any damage and to identify any potential health and safety concerns. Any problems are photographed and checked for soundness and then removed if necessary.
The Abbey said the survey is part of routine maintenance and it is only expected to find minor wear and tear.
Every five years, every church building must be inspected as part of a ‘Quinquennial inspection’ to ensure the building is kept in good repair. The work is being done on ropes to avoid spending tens of thousands of pounds on scaffolding.
Alix Gilmer, Bath Abbey’s Footprint Project Director said “We have a responsibility to ensure the Abbey is regularly maintained and looked after, including those hard to reach areas like the top of the West front! We’re grateful to SSHC’s conservators for their expertise and hard work.”
James Preston, stonemason and SSHC (Sally Strachey Historic Conservation) director: ‘’We regularly inspect the Abbey and other prominent historic structures in the city in order to maintain its fantastic condition. Roped access allows us to do this quickly, efficiently and regularly, without the inconvenience and cost of fixed scaffolding.’’