Craftsman helps shed light on church project

Blacksmith, Will Jones
Blacksmith, Will Jones

A blacksmith who has just completed the biggest commission of his career is set to see his work unveiled at a special church service on Sunday.

Blacksmith Will Jones, who calls his company Ironwill, has lived and worked in Little Horwood since 2005.

One of the electroliers

One of the electroliers

Mr Jones, aged 48, who also plays guitar and sings with local band The Fabulators and runs a monthly open mic at Little Horwood’s Shoulder of Mutton pub, previously worked at Culworth Forge, near Banbury.

While much of his bread-and-butter work consists of gates, railings and handrails, some of his previous commissions will be known locally, including a set of obelisks for Magdalen College School and a rose arbour for the President’s Garden at the school.

Last year, Mr Jones got a phone call from an architect working on the restoration of a central London church, asking if he would be interested in quoting for the construction of five enormous chandeliers.

All Saints Margaret Street, just off Oxford Circus, has being undergoing restoration for for about 15 years.

Will Jones with the drawings

Will Jones with the drawings

The crowning glory will be the chandeliers, or ‘electroliers’, which are replicas of the originals from the late 1800s, only two photographs of which survive.

The fittings, which are about 2.4 metres in diameter, and over 2 metres tall, are hand made in steel.

Mr Jones got the commission, and will be attending a Festal Evensong on Sunday, which is Candlemas Eve, to celebrate the introduction of the new lighting system.

Mr Jones in needed to bring in help to complete the massive project.

“I do try to work on the assumption I can do it,” he said.

“But it would have been daunting to do it on my own.”

A friend, who works as a blacksmith in the south of France, came to assist him for six weeks, and the main part of the construction was completed in about eight weeks.

“I then spent several months getting the paint right, “ said Mr Jones. “I had to keep painting samples for the architect to look at. I’ve had to use traditional oil-based paints and so on.”

Sunday will be the first time Mr Jones will see the electroliers alight, as the final pendant lights could only be fitted after the fittings were hung from the rafters.

Even the bulbs have been hand blown to match the originals as closely as possible.