Tapestry doors at the Gardner Memorial Church, Brechin

The Gardner Memorial Church in Brechin was built in 1900 in the Arts and Crafts style. It is currently preparing for a major refurbishment to make it fit for purpose for the 21st Century. Amongst the many features of the interior are the swing doors that give access to the church from the cloister, and from the main body of the church to the stairs and gallery. These doors are decorated with a material that mimics Spanish tooled and gilded leather. As the doors have been in use for more than a century, and the decorative finish is not easily maintained, considerable damage has occurred due to wear and tear and the passage of time.

Will Murray and Helen Creasy visited the Gardner Memorial Church to examine the doors at the invitation of Treasurer Peter George and the Church's adviser, Catherine Gillies of Ergadia Heritage. The doors were carefully examined and it was determined that they were made of a paper-backed linen canvas material that had been impregnated with resin and moulded to give a threedimensional design on the surface. The canvas had been adhered to the doors and then skilfully decorated with shellac and other materials to provide a durable decorative finish that convincingly mimics Spanish tooled leather.

Research was undertaken as part of the survey process and it was determined that the most likely candidate for the decorative finish was Tynecastle Canvas or Tynecastle Tapestry. These are products of the Tynecastle Company of Edinburgh which was active in the business of producing innovative wall coverings for some of the finest interiors of the time, including luxury homes, business headquarters, and ocean liners.

The damage seen to the Tynecastle Tapestry on the doors varies with their use and position in the building, and includes brass polish residues from the cleaning of the door furniture, wear and tear of the shellac finish where the surfaces are frequently handled, and damage and loss to the canvas material itself in some places.

The Studio was able to provide a full report on the significance of the doors, their condition, with a number of options for conservation work, and detailed estimates for each option.


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The Gardner Memorial Church, Brechin

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The cloister doors showing the embossed covering material

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Detail of the embossed material and its condition