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Angels on the Guildhall ceiling

Montage of all the angels on the Guildhall ceiling

The carved angels also suffered their share of damage in the fire, but despite the devastation much remains original. On closer inspection, the angel pictured bottom left can be seen to have more detailed wings than the others, and indeed, this pair survived the fire. The wings of the other nine angels, plus various parts of some of their instruments, were skilfully replaced by a small team of dedicated craftsmen. Please read more below the picture to learn about one particular key member of this team.

Letter to Chris Wells

One such craftsman was Christopher Kemp Wells, a master carpenter with the Corporation's Engineers Department, who worked on restoring the carvings in the roof. Christopher's granddaughter, Candis Ibberson (nee Wells), has proudly provided me with a copy of a letter sent to him by Coventry's Mayor, William Hodgson Malcolm, in gratitude for the wonderful work he had done prior to the Royal Visit on the 22nd May, 1948. Christopher was still only 28 years old at this time.

It is clear that the Guildhall ceiling was far from the only project he worked on, as our city was gradually restored after the devastation a few years earlier, during which he served in the military as a Private, Royal Engineers, in 1941.

Christopher received a well deserved award for his work and dedication, and can be seen below (on the left) working on a carving in the Guildhall kitchen. (Photo courtesy of Candis Ibberson.)

Christopher Wells

The following photographs and information are courtesy of David McGrory:

Guildhall craftsmen
15th February 1952. Left to right: Tom Smith, carpenter; R. Lester surveyor, chief technical assistant; Chris Wells, carpenter; S. L. Read, architectural assistant; Jack Clarke, carpenter; Jack Short, scaffolder.

Guildhall craftsmen
18th March 1952. This image shows Chris and Tom lifting soaked wood out of the vat behind the hall. These are being soaked in an inflammable solution in which death watch beetles cannot survive. All the new timbers were treated with this solution.

Guildhall craftsmen
23rd February 1953. In just over two months time this hard work can be revealed.

Guildhall craftsmen
6th May 1953. The finished ceiling proudly displayed once again.

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