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Coccolith – dry stone viewpoint and bench, Titsey Estate, Tatsfield, Surrey

Inspired Stone - Stonework - Coccolith - Surrey

Coccolith vewpoint – Surrey

I was asked to build the stonework by the designers Trish Evans and Nick Humphreys from Instar.

The work was commissioned by Surrey Hills Arts as one the permanent exhibits for their Inspiring View programme. Inspiring views is a series of permanent works of art – Coccolith is the latest.

Inspired Stone - Stonework - Coccolith - Surrey

Inspired Stone – Stonework – Coccolith – Surrey

The Concept

The concept of the piece was to create a visual representation of the underlying rock – chalk – the organisms that formed, the microscopic planktons called coccoliths.

Chalk for building proved hard to source.  The building version is called Clunch. The only surviving working clunch quarry was not in a position to provide stone for the project. Instead we opted for the Somerset White Lias as a substitute, supplied by Lovell Stone Group is also created by the same process as clunch.

Inspired Stone - Stonework - Coccolith - Surrey

Dry stone viewpoint – Coccolith – Surrey

The Stone

We also used local Ironstone from the Moorhouse Sandpits quarry which is owned by the Titsey estate and is situation a couple of miles and well seen from the Coccolith site.

The viewpoint measured a 1.5m radius inside, 2.25m to the outside; approx 10m long and 1.2m tall.  A double row of cope stones allowed a narrow planting strip for wild flowers.

In all the stone work took 20 days to build from setting out to site preparation, sorting the stone, building and tidying up.  18 tonnes of stone were used.

Inspired Stone - Stonework - Coccolith - Surrey

Dry stone limestone – Coccolith – Surrey

Five sawn sandstone bench cantilever 450mm out of the internal face of the wall.

Each of the bench pieces a coccolith design laser cut into it. Each bench stone was one word of the phrase “Built Upon Tide and Tide”.

The floor is finished with gravel/sand mix from Moorhouse Sand.

The location

Inspired Stone - Stonework - Coccolith - Surrey

Dry stone – Ironstone – Coccolith – Surrey

Coccolith is situated just off the North Downs Way, a 153 mile route that runs from Farnham in Surrey to Dover in Kent.

The location of the viewpoint is on a hillside at Clarks Lane Farm at Tatsfield, Surrey and is on the Titsey estate.

The views from Coccolith look South East and South over the Surrey and Kent countryside.

Nearby to the viewpoint is the new Titsey brewery.




2 Responses

  1. Tim Jackson

    I was interested in this when I saw it on the DSWA magazine cover, so it is good to read more here. Can you tell me more about the bench seats? How wide and thick are they and how much is hidden in the wall? I am wondering how the stone copes with being under tension, when someone sits on it.
    Tim Jackson

    1. Jason Hoffman

      Hi Tim, the bench pieces were something like 950mm long, 500mm wide and 90mm thick IIRC. They were bedded on mortar to ensure they were level and level with the other bench stones – it was tricky doing this alone! Slightly more than half the length was in the wall, so each stone was self-supporting. Whilst I was building the wall over the stones, I had wooden props to support them outside the wall and a pile of stones on the inside. Once built over, each was strongly in place. After I completed the structure I stood on each bench piece to double check. Nothing moved.

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