Wardour Chapel




The Chapel

The Dome Project






Getting There



Wardour Dome Project, March 2024

Anyone entering Wardour Chapel cannot fail to notice the exquisite shallow dome over the altar in gold and white with the Dove of the Holy Spirit at its centre. It is however a serious cause for concern as cracking in the plasterwork has been identified and was highlighted in the Quinquennial Inspection report carried out in 2022.  The extent of the cracking is being monitored but the QI report made it clear that restoration should be carried out within five years. Since then, Philip Hughes Associates has been employed to develop and implement the repair and restoration of this unique and beautiful dome. Philip is a fully qualified conservation accredited surveyor; his practice focusses exclusively on repairing historic buildings, and he has run many successful repair projects at outstanding buildings in the southwest.

The cracking that has appeared stretches across the entire saucer dome in a crazed pattern, rather than in a single line or along a single angle as might be more normally expected in a historic building subject to structural movement.


Photograph of plaster dome over the altar marked up to show crack lines.

The priority is to gain a proper understanding of what is causing the unusual cracking, and Philip Hughes will lead the required investigative works. The Chapel trustees are immensely grateful to the Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust for its generous 70th anniversary grant which will enable this investigative phase of the works to be undertaken.

A team of specialists has now been appointed by the Trustees, including a structural engineer, quantity surveyor and specialist conservator who will assess the extent and likely cause of the damage. We hope that in the next couple of months an internal scaffold will be erected to gain a greater understanding of the structure and of the causes of the cracking in the dome.  It is anticipated that the roof coverings will need to be opened up for inspection on the eastern side of the dome. 


It is likely that we will have a summary report of the investigations and a review of cost estimates in the spring.  This will inform the level of funding required, and a major appeal will then be launched.  Once funding is secured, we will be in a position to prepare specifications and drawings, apply for planning consent, and appoint contractors to carry out the restoration work on the Dome.


This is likely to be a highly complex restoration scheme: the great height of the dome above the altar is a challenge in terms of providing safe access to the underside of the dome and its plasterwork, therefore scaffolding will be required with beams to span above the altar, which itself will need careful protection. Unfortunately access to the roof space above the dome is extremely limited and with lightweight curved timbers (mostly approximately 20mm to 25mm in width) supporting the plasterwork it is not safe to climb into the space without there being protection erected below in the event of a structural failure or fall.  It is hoped that the works will begin in November 2024, and be completed by May 2025.  We will endeavour to keep you updated with developments in terms of the timing of work and costs