Furness Abbey, or St. Mary of Furness, is a former Cistercian monastery situated on the outskirts of the town of Barrow in Furness in Cumbria. Founded by King Stephen it dates back to 1123, it was once the second wealthiest and most powerful monastery in the country, behind only Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire. The remains, including much of the east end and west tower of the church, along with the ornately decorated chapter house and the cloister buildings are still very impressive and give some indication of the buildings original grandeur.
Historic Property Restoration has carried out work on both Furness Abbey and Fountains Abbey in our role as a specialist heritage conservation contractor.
As part of our continued work for English Heritage, Historic Property Restoration is carrying out emergency conservation work to literally prevent the Presbytery of the abbey from collapse. Routine inspections revealed serious cracks and movement in the walls of the Presbytery caused by the use of large pieces of oak by the medieval masons to support the ashlar stone of the structure which is lying on top of rubble foundations. Not surprisingly after 500 years the timber is gradually rotting away allowing the masonry above to sink and the walls to lose their structural integrity.
Substantial bespoke structural steelwork designed by EH engineers to support the walls was supplied and installed by HPR to prevent the loss of the structure. Subsequent phases of underpinning work by HPR have involved cutting through sections of the foundations [including the timbers] using diamond coated wires and inserting concrete pads using specialist rapid hardening cement. Continual monitoring of the walls will dictate when the steelwork can be safely dismantled and further masonry repair work is planned.