The date is May 10th, 1940. It is the middle of the night and war reaches the Westminster Abbey through Incendiaries, which burn through parts of the roof. The Westminster becomes damaged, with fires spreading within and volunteers working round the clock to put out the flames of war. Dawn approaches. The Westminster Abbey survives the most brutal night of the blitz yet, with over 60,000 sandbags protecting immovable artefacts that define the very Britain we live in today.
Winston Churchill, who was more than just one person to Britain, ensured the Abbey was secured at all costs. As part of the restoration works of Westminster Abbey, which finished in the late 90’s, timber which was unsafe to restore was removed and given to a reclamation yard. 80 years have passed since that terrifying inferno of May 10th. On a farm in Leicestershire a selection of floor boarding from the Abbey was discovered. A single 5ft section of this historic timber has been chosen to tell the story of that fateful night, and continue its story in a way that nobody expected.
Oak that is over a thousand years old has been lovingly sanded and oiled to reveal its true colour. Underneath the surface of the table, the oak has been left as it was discovered, still bearing the scars of the bomb that dislodged it from its original housing, has been placed so that the burns are still visible – marks of a heritage never to be forgotten. The oak has been engraved with three quarters of a church rose.
Supporting the oak board is 144 handmade hessian scale sandbags, each individually numbered and hand painted, with a secret message waiting to be discovered by the collector of this piece. On top of the oak surface are three concrete coaster sandbags, hand made using pea shingle and hidden cork crosses. Companion to this piece of history is an A2 framed timeline featuring key historic points of the oak used, and surrounded by imagery from the resurrection of the board.
Thousands of years of history are locked away in this piece. The story for this oak is far from over, it already has a new story to tell, and has plenty for further generations to discover.
124cm x 83cm x 39cm