The Stone Mason

1150 AD

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1150 Starting to build The story of the stone mason This page

1250 A typical day of a Monk

1350 The construction of the Spire by a steeplejack

1450 Market Day at St Mary's

1550 The Dissolution of the Monasteries

1650 The way of life with the Puritans

1750 The Industrial Revolution

1850 Rebuilding the church Investigation into the Paston-Cooper Burials in the House of Commons

1950 New Town – new churches appearing, but I want to go to St Mary’s

2004 Organ Restoration

The Stone Masons Story  

Its the summer now and work is in full swing. There's 40 of us on the job at the moment, all under the careful watch of the Master stone mason . Some people think that its a easy job chipping away at the stone until its nice and flat and smooth on a couple of sides, but there is so much more than that. We only really work for the 3 seasons of the year. In the winter the soil is too hard and wet to move. The season starts with the end of the spring storms and finishes when the heavy Autumn storms come again.

The master stone mason is a Norman. So are many of the other masons. A few of us Saxons are allowed to do the rough work.

Quarry the stone, cutting into large blocks, from a few miles away.

Transport the stone, some is imported, but only for the very special things since it costs too much.

Cut the stone into rough blocks, the Norman's finish them off and take the credit. but if I make mistake and break the block then the Norman task masters beat me just the same.

The peasants move the blocks up the the correct height and a Norman stone mason fits it into position.

We can only afford stone for the inside and for the corners outside.

The peasants raise the dirt wall on either side of the two walls and fill up the insides with rubble. The outside is large local stones stored by the peasants. Some have found some old bricks from the ruin at the rivers edge some few chains away. They are still good and are used to bond the wall together.

Each time we make a new layer the dirt walls by the chancel and tower are raised up so that more rubble can be barrowed up the slope.

We can't afford scaffolding for this height and the meadow has lots of good soil we can use to build the ramps. The Norman task masters herd the peasants to fetch an carry.

The master masons men are carving the window frames. We aren't allowed to do this job.

Up at dawn and finish at dusk, then back home to a stew made by my woman, with some bread she has made. She has to do all the farming whilst I am working, with the kids to help her. The crops have to be looked after whilst I am kept away all day. We have to produce all our own food to keep us going, with a few animals and some veg crops. I am worried about laying down enough good food to last us through the winter and spring, since I have to do this stone masonry instead of the farming.The money is good - being a craftsman, enough to buy us a few extras like a new coat, but I don't want to have to spend the extra money on buying food. We make our own cothes and my woman is good at making clothes from the wool and some flax.

We are only building the chancel and the tower at the moment. I understand the nave is planned to be started in a few years. Maybe in time to give my son a job. The Normans say that the roof will be vaulted. I have never seen a stone roof. Maybe I might be allowed to work under the scaffolding. Its a very dangerous job. Many have died being crushed to death I have heard, but I suppose the Noramns will do it. Some of them have done a stone vaulted ceiling before.

I wonder if me great grandson might see the church finished.

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