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New staircase for renowned Tudor mansion brings national glory to Kent joinery company

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Benenden-based joinery business Deacon and Sandys has scooped a prestigious national award for its work on a stunning oak staircase at Crosby Hall, described as the most important domestic medieval building in London.

Entrepreneur and heritage champion Dr Christopher Moran is funding an ongoing multimillion pound restoration of Crosby Hall on Chelsea Embankment. With a forensic attention to detail he is painstakingly bringing one of London’s most historic buildings and the former residence of Sir Thomas More back to its former glory.

Deacon and Sandys, a joinery firm specialising in the design, restoration and creation of traditional English interior woodwork, was appointed for the manufacture and installation of a breathtakingly complex carved and hand finished oak staircase for the mansion.

The technically brilliant staircase was named as the Woodworking Project of the Year at this month’s British Woodworking Federation (BWF) Awards.

The award was set up in 2010 in memory of John Hedgecock, the former technical director of the BWF and recognises outstanding and innovative projects in the joinery manufacturing and woodworking industry.

Michael Moore of Deacon and Sandys said:

“This project was a great honour but also presented huge technical challenges right from the start, not least because of the unusual size of the sections of oak and the overall dimensions of the complete job.

“We took inspiration on the design from an oak stairway at English Heritage’s Burton Agnes in Yorkshire. But to source the dry sections of oak big enough and clean enough to minimise movement and to allow for the elaborate carving required many months of preparation.

“There are three doorways at different levels and the landing levels needed to coincide with each of them, at the same time as all of the risers over the whole staircase being exactly the same height as each other. In addition, the intricate designs meant we ended up hand-carving about 200 metres of oak.”

Iain McIlwee, chief executive of the BWF, said:

“The BWF awards provide us with the opportunity to showcase some of the most gifted businesses and individuals in our industry who make some of the most exciting products and projects that can be achieved using wood.

“The sheer weight, size and quality of the oak, together with the complex carved design, made this a very challenging staircase to design, manufacture and install, but the end result is spectacular.”

The annual BWF Woodworking Awards were hosted by one of Britain’s most famous Olympians, Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards. The Woodworking Project of the Year Award was sponsored by Accoya.

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