Context 154 - May 2018

C O N T E X T 1 5 4 : M A Y 2 0 1 8 17 LIME AND STONE EMILY HARPER and SUE PENALUNA Sourcing stone to repair Exeter Cathedral Even within environmentally sensitive areas it has been possible to achieve planning permission to reopen two historic building stone quarries for the repair of Exeter Cathedral. Like most historic cathedrals, Exeter Cathedral was built, altered and repaired over many centuries using many different types of stone, often dictated by fashion and availability. It is estimated that nearly 30 different types of stone are present in the fabric of the cathedral. The predominant material for the inner and outer walls is Salcombe stone, a fawn, grey-weathering, medium-to-coarse calcareous limestone from the Lower Cretaceous period 1 , which was historically quarried from the Salcombe Regis area in East Devon. This stone, particularly valued for external facing work due to its durability, is found in many church buildings across East Devon. Dunscombe Manor Quarry Dunscombe Manor Quarry, on the Salcombe Regis headland in East Devon, is known to have supplied sandstone to Exeter Cathedral in the medieval period, and perhaps from as early as the 12th century. Exeter Cathedral’s unique series of medieval fabric rolls record the quarrying of much stone from the parishes of Salcombe and Branscombe, and its transport to Exeter by sea-barge and land transport. Historically, stone was obtained from the whole headland area. In more recent times the cathedral itself operated Dunscombe Manor Quarry until the early 1990s. The planning permission lapsed in 1994 and operations ceased. The quarry was then closed and gated, becoming over- grown, and there were no other sources of new material in the area.The need to restore and repair the cathedral continued, however, and by the early 2000s it was clear that the aesthetic appearance and the historic integrity of the cathedral would be affected should Salcombe stone remain unavailable. The cathedral authorities approached Devon County Council in 2013 for advice on the possibility of reopening Dunscombe Manor Quarry to source stone for repairs to the cathedral. In planning policy terms, there is clear support for the small-scale extraction of locally distinctive building stone of this nature, both locally through the then Devon County Minerals Local Plan 2 , and nationally through the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Minerals Practice Guidance 3 . However, the site is located within a particularly sensitive area. It is within the East Devon area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) and a coastal preservation area; less than 100m to the south is the Sidmouth to Beer Coast site of special scientific interest (SSSI) and the Sidmouth to West Bay special area of conservation (SAC), which is an international designation.There is a presumption against newminerals Benches within Dunscombe Manor Quarry (Photo: Emily Harper)