Friday, 22 October 2021

Historic well book restored

A BOOK documenting the construction of the Maharajah’s Well in Stoke Row has been restored.

The minute book includes a letter from the Maharajah of Benares in India, who paid for the 368ft well when it was built in 1864 by village squire Edward Reade.

Victoria Stevens, a conservation specialist, took about three months to restore the book at her workshop in Reading.

She repaired the letter and damage caused by paperclips and gave the book a new binding before it was returned to the Oxfordshire History Centre in Oxford.

Ms Stevens said the decision by the well’s trustees to have the book restored was timely.

She said: “It has arrested the decline of what had become a very fragile object and in doing so has avoided the need for more a more intrusive and costly repair.

“Before treatment, there was a significant risk that handling would accelerate the deterioration not only of the whole object itself but also of its important component elements, such as the delicate Maharajah’s letter.

“The damage was such that the minute book was designated not fit for production, resulting in it being withdrawn from use for research.

“The conservation has returned it to full functionality, albeit with the usual level of care due to an object that is 150 years old.”

The Maharajah funded the well as a gift to Mr Reade for sinking a well in Benares in 1831. Mr Reade had told him about water shortages in his home village of Ipsden.

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