Bodleian Great Gate transformed by restoration project

Originally constructed in the early 17th century, the Great Gate forms an imposing main entrance into the quad, but was starting to show the effects of decades of exposure to the elements since major maintenance work was last carried out.

great gate 16 08 23  beforelowres

The team removed what was left of a protective layer of wax that had been applied many years before, stripping the gates back to the bare wood before filling in gaps and applying three new coats of oil-based finish. This will provide much better protection for many years to come, particularly from damaging ultraviolet light, and will be far easier to maintain in future.

The oil finish shows off the beauty of the oak wood to much better effect than the wax did, and will brighten and improve even further as time passes.

great gate after work nov23 lowres

The team also made minor repairs to the timber of the gates where necessary, often where they had suffered years of small impacts from book trolleys, and re-painted the 20 college, University and royal crests that adorn them. The before and after pictures below show how the work has transformed the Gate’s appearance, with the previously dull, faded crests restored to bright, sharply delineated colours and the wood’s surface now a rich, lustrous brown.

great gate after work nov23 2 lowres

There are also a few smaller crests above archways inside the quad that have also been repainted, and the team are now restoring some of the stonework nearby including on the grotesque carvings on the quad’s interior walls. They hope to finish everything by around the end of January 2024.

screenshot 20240109 080852 linkedin
screenshot 20240109 080856 linkedin