Repairing the Finial to the William IV Gatehouse

The historic buildings on the Royal Pavilion Estate are checked on a regular basis. The finial to William IV Gate was found to be moving out of the vertical by 75mm. This meant that high winds could cause failure and damage to the structure as well as injury.

Goods Drawing 1832
Goods Drawing 1832

The aim of the repairs was to give support to the finial, replacing the stone ball supporting the finial and making good the copper cladding and lead flashing.

Finial Base Before Repairs
Finial Base Before Repairs

Finial Base before Repairs

The finial consists of eight different stone sections. It has lead flashing and copper cladding. Before the repairs, the stone base of the finial was badly eroded.

Sequence of Events for Repairs

The repairs were to be carried out with little disturbance to the structure, to save as much of the stone finial as safely possible, and to preserve as much of the existing fabric.

The sequence of events were as follows:

  • Install scaffolding
  • Survey finial and record
  • Investigate how the finial was supported
  • Cut finial at each stone section
  • Open up Copper dome and open timber frame
  • Agree method of repair
  • Replace supporting rod
Stone finial removal
Stone finial removal

Removal of the Stone Finial

The finial consisted of wrought iron rod and hard wood boss holding timber formers. Each of the eight sections were removed. The wrought iron was drilled out with a diamond core drill. The copper cladding sections were removed to allow for investigation into the void.

Copper Dome Opened
Copper Dome Opened

Copper Dome Opened

The copper dome was opened and a section of timber formers was removed. The old rod was dismantled and removed and a new iron plate was installed to take the new stainless steel rod.

New Rod
New Rod

Installing New Finial

The new rod is made of stainless steel. This consisted of three sections which are screwed together. Also added was a stainless steel girdle and a new timber boss.

Copper Cladding
Copper Cladding

Dome receives Stone Finial

The girdle was screwed into place. The new timber boss was screwed onto existing timber formers. These were held tightly to reduce movement. The copper cladding was nailed to the boss and a lead cap fitted to stop water ingress. The first section of the stone finial was then installed.

The Repaired Finial
The Repaired Finial

The Repaired Finial

All of the eight sections were replaced and grouted. The lightning conductor was refitted. The finial still sways to allow give in high winds.


This text was originally published on the Royal Pavilion and Museums’ main website. It has been republished here in order to reach a wider audience.

One Response

  1. Interesting to know the care and attention that goes into investigating the fabric to be repaired and then designing new parts and installing it all. I believe the original architect and builders would approve of the use of modern materials and techniques in order to make durable repairs and thereby extend the life of the building.

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