Photos of Syon Abbey
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The Building of Syon Abbey

2002 and 2003

Block walls of Syon

Almost the entire first year of construction was taken up with pouring the foundations, the church basement and the first floor slabs, which together required over 1200 cubic yards of concrete.

Because the stone walls of the church would be two feet thick, the solid concrete walls of the church undercroft needed to be of the same thickness, and the foundation beneath these walls is four feet wide. The bell tower sits on a similarly sturdy foundation. The basement floor of the tower is essentially a concrete cube, with thick concrete walls and ceiling, all resting on a two foot thick concrete pad.

View over second floor of Syon Abbey

At the same time the concrete work was proceeding we were constantly unloading the scores of trucks bringing the concrete block, and floor panels, and, later, the stone from Spain. For much of the first year these materials covered nearly two acres of our fields.

It wasn't until the middle of the summer of 2002 that we were ready to begin raising the block walls of the dormitory, and by fall the first floor walls were mostly complete, the kitchen basement and chimney were largely finished, and the precast aerated concrete floor panels were installed for the second story.

Installing the roof trusses

The aerated concrete turned out to be very easy to work with. Although it is concrete, it can, because of its low density, be cut with many ordinary wood-working tools, which makes working with it much easier than traditional concrete work. We easily cut thousands of blocks with a band saw and shaped them with rasps or sandpaper.

The second floor walls of the dormitory were completed in the spring of 2003, and in early summer we began to put together the roofs. Much care had to be taken to securely brace the roof trusses as the work proceeded, since we can have on occasion strong winds on our mountain top. During the rest of 2003 we worked on the roof of the residence and began to raise the block walls of the church.

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