Local Blacksmith's Big Job

Longhope Blacksmith Gareth Thomas bade farewell today to a major project that’s been keeping him busy for 18 months. He’s been working on repairing and restoring the 12’ by 12’ gates to Monmouthshire’s equivalent of Downton Abbey, The Hendre at Rockfield, Monmouth, now the clubhouse of the Rolls of Monmouth Golf Club, but once the childhood home of Charles Stewart Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce. The architect of The Hendre was Aston Webb, renowned Victorian architect of the façade of Buckingham Palace, and the gates were put in place in 1897.

”The gates were in a sorry state” explained Gareth. “Corrosion had reduced them to a shadow of their former glorious state.” He went on “I much admire the craftsmanship of those days which was difficult to replicate; indeed certain parts of the gate could not be manufactured now in the same way, as those skills have been lost.” The gates are an imposing black, but the decorative foliage would once have been gold-plated, unfortunately out of the reach of the pocket of the commissioner, Mrs Harding-Rolls. Nevertheless, they must look imposing!

With thanks to Jo Phelps for these photos.

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