COATHAM – Link with Caen

Accreditation Cleveland Standard 15/07/1944 


   The Vicar of Coatham (the Re. F. Cosgrove) in the current issue of the church magazine points out an interesting link between Coatham and Normandy. He writes-

   It should be of interest to Coatham parishioners that the town of Caen in Normandy, where the fighting is now going on is the place from which most of the stone was brought to build many English churches, including ours. I in common with others, wish it had not; for Caen stone is mostly lime and much to soft for the hard climate of the North East Coast. Where it was used on the exterior it has almost perished, since the Church was built in 1854, and has been replaced by cement patches instead of local stone. For this interior work, Caen stone easily lends itself for highly ornamental work, and I have always understood that it is not carved with a chisel and hammer but the use of rubbers – a fact which seems to be proved if one carefully examines such decorated pieces as the Reredos Aumbry (or Credence), Sedilia Pulpit Font and Corbel stones in Coatham Church. The superimposed pinnacles of the Reredos having been fractured at some time have, had to be taken down for safety’s sake. Being later additions, their removal does not spoil but rather improves the structure: and there would be nothing to gain by restoring them. My own opinion is that good old English Oak ia preferable, its only disadvantage being that it gets the death-watch-beetle if not cared for, and it has been used successfully in the construction of, and furnishings for churches and other interesting buildings during hundreds of years gone by. The use of Caen stone was a craze about a hundred years ago, and where you see it, it gives you a fairly accurate idea of the date of the building, though not always, unless what I have seen occasionally is a similar material.


Lol Hansom May 15, 2013 Coatham