Geology: Weald Clay Formation
Rock Unit: Freshwater limestone
Age: Lower Cretaceous
Provenance: West Kent
To be found in:
A geological description of this rock type can be found here
Shelly limestones that take a good polish were much in demand as decorative stones from the late twelfth century onwards. While Purbeck Marble was able to fulfil much of the demand in the south-east of the country, a source from the Wealden District could have the added advantage of a local supply at less cost.
From the regional use of Weald Clay limestones we know that much stone for church building and paving etc, was locally quarried around Bethersden. However, similar stones, with large and sometimes small, snail shells have been quarried from many locations in the Weald. In West Sussex the stone goes by local names such as Petworth Marble, Laughton Marble, Charlwood Marble as well as the generic Sussex Marble. While a local source to Canterbury is the most likely provenance of a Weald Clay limestone it is possible that identical stone could be brought to Kent by ship from the south Sussex coast. There are many monumental and architectural elements in grand houses and churches throughout the Wealden District made from these limestones. It is unclear whether there were many local workshops or a few regional ones. Prestigious commissions may also have sourced stone to be transported to London for cutting and assembly.
The limestone is relatively soft and can be cut easily with an iron saw. The act of polishing the marble is more labour intensive. A mild abrasive will provide a flat surface that can be polished using mixtures including materials such as clay, beeswax and animal fats.
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