Buckingham Palace, London

The eastern range of Buckingham Palace was built in 1847 to provide much needed accommodation within the Palace for Queen Victoria’s growing household, and also to improve circulation by forming a quadrangle with the three earlier ranges built by John Nash in the 1820s. The Nash ranges had been faced with Bath limestone – a beautiful honey-coloured stone that can be seen at the side of Buckingham Palace today and from the gardens. The newly built eastern range, however, was faced with paler Caen limestone from Normandy, the use of which was undergoing a popular revival at the time having had a distinguished history of use upon fine medieval buildings in Britain. Almost immediately, however, the stone on the new range began to fail.

The choice of stone to be used in the repair and replacement work was extremely important as the consultant team were keen to ensure that the problems experienced with the 19th century Caen stone would not be repeated. From a conservation viewpoint, it is always desirable to replace and repair existing stone with the original stone type if the quality is consistent and the stone still available. Caen stone is a limestone with a unique colour, texture and performance, but its geological matrix is not matched by any limestones currently being quarried in the UK. Sourcing a suitable stone therefore became a major challenge.

Our team undertook extensive research into various French limestones including a recently re-opened Caen mine in Cintheaux, Normany, and initial samples showed this was a good aesthetic match to the exposed existing Caen stone. The project team visited the Caen mine to assess the quality of the stone being extracted, and fortunately found that the mine operation was well organised and the stone being extracted was of a consistently good standard with a dependable supply for the future. Following rigorous independent sample testing by the British Research Establishment, it was confirmed that we had found the correct stone for carrying out the replacement and repair work.


2012 Natural Stone Awards – Winner of the Repair and Restoration Category

2011 The Mason’s Company Craft Awards – Winner of the Repair or Restoration in Natural Stone Category

2011 RICS Awards London Region – Overall Runner up

2011 RICS Awards London Region – Runner up of the Building Conservation Category

The Georgian Group Architectural Awards – Winner of the Restoration of a Georgian Building in an Urban Setting Category