The restoration of St. Cunera's tower in Rhenen is nearing its end. My colleague Jan Tolboom from Leusden had taken on the commission to supply all of the ornaments for this project, namely eight large pinnacles and some crockets. Halfway through the project, he asked me if I would like to carve half of each of the next five pinnacles, so as to share the workload.
The old blocks dated from just after the Second World War, when so many churches and castles were urgently in need of repairs. In Rhenen of course raged the battle of the Grebbelinie, and the further war years will certainly have added some more damage. During the reconstruction era heaps of tuff were processed in a short time, and there will also have been a great demand for professionals at the time. But restoration sculptors have always been in the minority, which is something of all ages. I suspect, therefore, that a number of relatively low-skilled people have been asked to do the sculpting, because the quality of the ornaments is not that great. This is a picture of the old tufa: strongly weathering down and the design of the ornaments was questionable.
The old pinnacles, which were embedded in the tower wall at about sixty meters up, were carved in the infamous Ettringer tuff at the time. That stone begins to deteriorate after forty or fifty years already, and starts falling apart and becoming a risk for the surroundings. Which is why it was chosen to replace them, and this time in Muschelkalk limestone. The pinnacles have this time around been made by Slotboom Stonemasons and the ornaments have been carved by Jan Tolboom and myself.
After approximately six or seven of the eight pinnacles were installed, we went for a visit to the tower, along with the entire staff of Slotboom Stonemasons . The plumbers were busy lining the wooden lantern with lead, and despite the fresh breeze there was an amazing view, over the river and all of Rhenen and surroundings.
The pinnacles of the fifties/sixties are copies of older work, and now the tufa blocks are already being copied again. Then of course there will be a chance of straying ever further away from the original. Because there aren't any original examples left anymore, the decision that was made now is to look back to designs that can be found elsewhere. Therefore, in consultation with the architect and the consultant of the National Cultural Heritage, Jan Tolboom made some new designs. The ornaments on the pinnacles have all become different, and that's the fun of it. This time the crockets got a bit more curves, just as in the original.