London archaeologist shares history of church restoration

by rcnewsblog on November 6, 2013

SchofieldWorld-renowned archaeologist and author, John Schofield, recently gave a lecture at Roanoke College about the restoration of medieval churches.

Students, faculty and staff attended his Oct. 29 presentation, held in Roanoke’s Pickle Lounge.

Schofield of London spoke of past and present efforts to restore London cathedrals and parishes destroyed in the 17th century Great Fire of London. The fire destroyed nearly 400 acres of land, including St. Paul’s Cathedral and 80 other churches.

After the fire, Sir Christopher Wren, who was the surveyor general to the king, was given the task of rebuilding London and St. Paul’s in 1666 to its original glory.

During World War II, St. Paul’s and surrounding parishes were once again damaged. In 1940 German armed forces bombed the city of London damaging much architecture. St. Paul’s however, suffered minor damage.

After a second restoration, St. Paul’s became an inspiration to the people of Britain.

For more than 40 years, Schofield, formerly a long-time archaeologist at the Museum of London, has used his archeological passion to restore, study, and excavate houses, cathedrals and churches in London.

In the 1990’s, two Roanoke College students interned with Schofield to learn general archaeology.

Schofield has discovered priceless artifacts while reassembling deteriorating churches, including a 17th century tobacco pipe and alabaster stones from early parish churches in the drain pipes of London.

Schofield, with contribution from Dr. Gary Gibbs, a Roanoke College history professor, wrote the “Proposal for St. Margaret Pattens, City of London: an archaeological assessment.” St. Margaret Pattens, a church in London, wishes to place a door in the second floor of its 17th century tower, but Schofield is faced with the obstacle of changing the architecture and possibly destroying artifacts in the tower.

Schofield’s notable books include  “St. Paul’s Cathedral Before Wren” and “London, 1100-1600: The Archaeology of a Capital City.”

-By Allison Shannon ’15

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