Cleaned Shrewsbury Abbey is being revealed as scaffolding comes down
It is one of Shrewsbury's best known landmarks and has welcomed visitors to the town for centuries but for months the town's Abbey church has been covered in scaffolding.
The abbey has been undergoing something of a facelift, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to clean years of grime from its gargoyles and stonework.
But now, the first pieces of scaffolding has been removed, unveiling the intricate work that has been undertaken.
Black soot, caused by pollution from cars, had built up on the upper reaches of the church over the years and workmen have been painstakingly removing it.
The abbey has been undergoing around £300,000 worth of stone repairs and these are are due to be completed by the summer and then all the scaffolding will have come down.
The black soot covering the stones is from vehicle pollution that has built up since the Second World War.
Restoration experts are hopeful that the black soot will not return as the air quality surrounding the building is now much better than it was 70 years ago.
The abbey was founded in 1083 as a Benedictine monastery by the Norman Earl of Shrewsbury, Roger de Montgomery. It grew to be one of the most important and influential abbeys in England, and an important centre of pilgrimage.
Much of the original Norman 11th century building survives in the present Abbey church, notably the short thick piers in the eastern half of the nave and the remnants of the original transepts.
Stones with three sculptured figures, representing John the Baptist, Saint Winefride and St. Beuno, were found in a garden and have been restored to their original position in the screen.
During the 19th century there were major restoration projects to restore the clerestory, and the east end of the church was redesigned by John Loughborough Pearson to contain a chancel and sanctuary.
The Abbey is a Grade I listed building and is a member of the Greater Churches Group.