For nearly 40 years, stonemason Paul Deamer has been working to maintain and preserve the fabric of York’s great Minster. Next week he will give an illustrated talk about his work. PETER STANHOPE reports
PAUL DEAMER must be one of the happiest, and sometimes one of the highest, men in York. As a stonemason working on the Minster fabric for almost 40 years, Paul says: “I enjoy my work – I get paid well for something that I really enjoy doing.”
Paul has always been a stonemason. After leaving school and entering into an apprenticeship with the old Ministry of Works, working on historic buildings such as Fountains Abbey, Byland Abbey and others, he then joined the York Minster stone yard staff in 1976, aged 20.
Over the past 36 years of working for the Chapter of York, he has seen all aspects, and all heights, of the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe – often up close and personal. Paul has worked on the towers of the West End, the great West Doorway, the tracery of the beautiful Heart of Yorkshire window and the South Transept following the disastrous fire of 1984.
Nowadays, Paul can often be found high up above College Green working on the restoration of the enormous East End of the Minster, which is enclosed in scaffolding to enable this work to be carried out.
Paul also works in the Mason’s Yard from time to time where, as a stonemason, he is involved in shaping the blocks of stone into profiles for columns, arches, window surrounds and tracery with his mallets and chisels.
He is then responsible for positioning and fixing those stones into the Minster fabric for them to last another few hundred years bearing his own unique ‘Mason’s mark’ for future generations to discover.
Paul was made Master of the York Guild of Building for the year 2005/2006.
Next week, he’ll be giving an illustrated talk – the Harry Ward Memorial Lecture for the Gild of Freemen of the City of York – aimed at giving members of the public an insight into his work.
The talk, at Bedern Hall, will be entitled “A Stonemason’s-Eye View of the Minster”. “I would like to invite all members of the public to join us on this very special occasion and to enjoy Paul’s talk,” says Hazel Hague, Master of the Gild of Freemen.
• Paul Deamer’s talk “A Stonemason’s-Eye View of the Minster” will be at Bedern Hall at 7.30pm on Tuesday. The talk will be fully illustrated with slides and Mr Deamer hopes to have examples of his stonework and his tools with him for inspection. Tickets, priced £6 per person including refreshment, are available from Allan Banks on 01904 331215.