Even the Stone Needs Care and Attention

Stone seems so immutable, but in London it can take a beating. Soot, exhaust and just the wear and tear of the elements mean ongoing care and attention is essential.

The Union Club and the Royal College of Physicians were both built almost two centuries ago, in 1820, and clad in Portland stone. Over the years the stone has been cleaned and washed, but as a result of the weather — the wind, heat and cold — the building suffered from what is commonly called Regent Street Disease. Slowly, the stone cladding began to separate from the building’s exterior.

The newly renovated Canada House has been washed, the stone has been repaired, and in some cases replaced.

The gorgeous golden maple leaves that were specially designed for the building have been restored to their original lustre, as has the CANADA lettering that adorns the entrances and the Trafalgar Square façade; one more CANADA carving over the restored Trafalgar entrance was added.

The simple row of oval shapes separated by what looks like an arrow head is known as ‘egg and dart’. It is a style of cornicing characteristic of the Ionic order of classical architecture. Some historians believe that originally it represented life in the form of the egg and death in the form of the arrow.

To archive a true record of the original Canada House cornice and to preserve a piece in a form closest to how it was originally created, a small corner section of the egg and dart was cut out and replaced with a new section, carved to match — with a maple leaf added to mark its place. The original stone carving is now under lock and key as part of London’s heritage.

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