'Crystal Palace Park Sphinxes' by Skillington Workshop and Odgers Conservation Consultants
Crystal Palace Park was created in the early 1850s to form a setting for Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace, which had housed the Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park. The Crystal Palace was rebuilt in the new park between 1852 and 1855, but was gutted by a fire in 1936.
The Italian terraces and steps that formed the immediate setting for the Crystal Palace survive, as does a set of six sphinxes, set in pairs at the head of three great granite steps. The rather derelict south-west steps and all six sphinxes are the subjects of the conservation contract commissioned by Bromley Borough Council and won by Skillingtons.
The sphinxes, said to be copied from and original in the Louvre, are Grade II listed and modelled in concrete around a brick core. They were in varying states of repair with cracking, surface delamination and areas of complete loss were evident. As well as making good all these defects, the work included the recreation of the original painted schemes using silicate mineral paints. The steps required extensive dismantling and rebuilding together with the provision of new support walls, and some replacements, some of which were done by sub-contractors Universal Stone.
The project was funded by the London Borough of Bromley, together with Historic England and the Mayor of London. The work was undertaken between March and August 2016.