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Works at St Mary's Church - update

Friday 1st July, 2016 @ 11:40 am

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The scaffolding has melted away….

This quote from a member of the congregation at St Mary’s seems to summarise the extensive but unobtrusive works that have taken place at the church over the winter and early part of 2016.

So what’s been going on? In a word, we’ve been trying to make the main roofs watertight. Very early on we decided that the church would not be closed during the work and that we would try and minimise disruption.

With regard to the nave, we decided to prop the aisle roofs internally so that they could support an immense custom-made marquee covering the main working area above. With this structure in place the 1840s lead was taken away for recasting. It was interesting to watch the process as molten metal ran swiftly over a carefully prepared bed of sand followed immediately by careful skimming to ensure uniform thickness. The ‘new’ sheets were then cut to size, rolled up and returned to site to be fixed in place by expert lead-worker, Nick Turner, assisted by his sons. Minor but ingenious modifications were made to the rainwater system during associated work on the guttering and, whilst the lead was away, the roof timbers were inspected and thankfully found to be in good condition.

Taking advantage of the external scaffolding in place at the west end we were able to commission urgent conservation to several stained glass panels. The work was undertaken by Derek Hunt in his Medbourne studios and Yvonne and Chas Harriss joined Paul and Deborah Sibly for a visit to view Derek in action. This element of the works programme was funded by the parish and two generous individual gifts.

Talking of funding, when our bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund was initiated in 2013 we had hoped to undertake a wide range of roof repairs, but it was made clear by the architect from English Heritage that we should make renewing the whole of the nave roof a top priority: in the event this absorbed the whole of our HLF grant.

But there were other matters to attend to! We felt we should at least try to locate and fix other roof leaks and also make it easier (and safer) to access the roofs and gutters for inspection. Some stonework was also in need of urgent repair.

We appealed for funds and were very encouraged by generous support from the Forman Hardy Charitable Trust, the Lady Hind Trust, the Jones 1986 Trust, the Nottinghamshire Historic Churches Trust, , the Jessie Spencer Trust and the Garfield Weston Foundation. The Parish Treasurer, Peter Moore, also unearthed a fund held by the diocese restricted in application ‘to keeping the chancel of St Mary’s Church wind and weatherproof’.

Repairs, some permanent and others exploratory were then made to the transept and chancel roofs, and the grants mentioned above also enabled us to install new high level roof ladders, a link bridge and tower access steps. We also repaired the upper section of the tower access turret. Badly decayed stone stair treads in the north turret were renewed, (these, incidentally, may have become damaged when the turret was in use as a chimney for a long-vanished heating system).

Who did the work? Our architect, Peter Rogan (who is based above the Kean’s Head pub) drew up all the plans and specifications and supervised the work. The contractor was MSM of Loughborough, with Derek Park in charge of a highly skilled team. Nick Turner [lead] and Derek Hunt [glass] have already been mentioned. Roger Freeston was invaluable in getting the project started and in making suggestions for funding. Louise Hodder (mainly employed as our Heritage Education Project co-ordinator) and Wendy Pearce kept us on track with HLF paperwork and Paul Sibly was the project co-ordinator.

What did this ‘invisible’ programme cost? The total spend was around £350,000; the parish contribution was about 5%; for the rest we are hugely grateful to the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Charitable Trusts and individual donors mentioned above. Our inspiration throughout was the work of those who, over many centuries, have loved, looked after and developed our amazing building for the greater glory of God.

Please see the pdf Works 2015/16 at St Mary’s for some photos of the project.

Paul Sibly, Project Co-ordinator


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