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Staff floored by stunning hidden artwork in Shrewsbury Cathedral

By Nick Humphreys | Shrewsbury | Attractions | Published:

Workers carrying out restorations at Shrewsbury Cathedral were floored when they found incredible 19th-century mosaic tiles in its grounds.

An ongoing project to restore the building to its former glory uncovered the impressive gothic work of famous architect Edward Welby Pugin buried beneath a suspended wooden floor.

The tiles may have been covered in dust and dirt from being undercover since 1984, but their beauty remains in the mesmerising symmetrical designs.

Fortunately, the mosaics remain in pretty good nick despite being hidden away for more than three decades, with only a few cracks stopping them from being impeccably preserved.

Richard Keddie and a colleague help to clean up the tiles to reveal stunning details

The work is inspired in the design of Augustus Pugin, father of Edward, who is remembered for the part he played in the gothic revival in architecture. It was intended that Pugin Snr would carry out the work in Shrewsbury, but he died before he could get started.

Staff at the cathedral have been cleaning up the tiles and are looking forward to showing them off to the public.

Richard Keddie, development officer at the cathedral, said: "There are some old photographs so we knew what lay underneath the suspended wooden floor that was put down in 1984. The aim of this whole project is to rediscover the beauty of the building.

"They are of the period. They are very detailed and beautiful mosaics that were made bespoke for Shrewsbury Cathedral. We are very lucky in that there is not much damage to the tiles. Of course there is a religious theme running through.

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"It Augustus Pugin's son that finished it because he died before it opened. That's quite and interesting fact. He died just before it was due to open to the public."

The Pugin flooring was uncovered at Shrewsbury Cathedral. Picture: Shrewsbury Cathedral

The tiles, along with other parts of the restorations, can be seen by the public from the viewing gallery on Saturdays from 12pm and Sundays from 8.30am.

Richard added: "This is just a small part of the project. It's going to take around 24 months to complete.

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"We are having the original pews back in. They're currently at a school in Church Stretton. The pulpit, that was made from Grinshill stone, has been removed and will be replaced by a replica."

Work is also being done on the altar and the sanctuary area to restore the whole cathedral to its former glory.

The Pugin flooring was uncovered at Shrewsbury Cathedral. Picture: Shrewsbury Cathedral

The bell has already been restored by John Taylor and Co from Loughborough, the same company that made it in 1856. That will be back in place on March 25 and will be rung by an automated electronic system. It is one of one a few cathedrals in the country to have such a system in place.

"We've had a lot more people following us on social media, keen to see what's going on. People seem really interested in the the work," said Richard.

"The overall feedback has been really positive. I think people appreciate that we are trying to that we are trying to make the building more beautiful."

Nick Humphreys

By Nick Humphreys
Senior Reporter

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star focusing on Shrewsbury.

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