We take great pleasure in utilising our surveying skills for the preservation of historical structures by measuring and recording a diverse range of buildings and individual architectural features; however, on occasion we are asked to survey something slightly out of the ordinary.

The College Surveyor and Master of Works at Oriel College Oxford recently contacted us with a request to survey a particularly important timber frieze from the College Chapel and provide a computerised 3D model. The model will be used to create an exact 3D printed replica of the frieze from which samples of gilding and colour can be added for Listed Building Consent.

Oriel College Oxford was founded in 1326 by King Edward II and boasts many historical alumni including Sir Walter Raleigh and Samuel Wilberforce. The frieze itself was designed circa 1911 by Sir Ninian Comper, a Scottish-born architect who was one of the last great Gothic Revival architects and is buried in Westminster Abbey.

The frieze features carved lions either side of a plume of gilded ostrich feathers which are emerging from a coronet. This coronet and plume of feathers represents the ‘Prince of Wales’s feathers’ and has been adopted as a heraldic badge by the members of the college.

According to legend, use of the ostrich feather can be traced back to Edwards III’s son, the Black Prince, who after defeating King John of Bohemia at the Battle of Crécy in 1346, took ostrich feathers from the Dead King John’s helmet and incorporated them into his own arms.

The sense of history working on this small but important item is palpable. We are extremely proud to be able to assist with its preservation for future ages and look forward to providing updates of our progress with the modelling.

© David Cosby Chartered Surveyors 2019