Repair works have started and the clock has been stopped.
16th March 2020Heritage
The long awaited works to carry out urgent repairs started on 2nd March. During the first week, the scaffolding was erected most of the way up the tower. At the end of the week, the scaffolders moved into the church and erected scaffolding down the nave to give access to the high level south clerestory windows from the inside. Our vicar, with supporting team, managed to put the pews back into rows round the scaffolding, making it look as if it is nothing out of the ordinary to have the nave scaffolded.
The scaffolders completed the outside at the start of week two. All of the tower and the west nave wall is scaffolded. With this done, the craftsmen moved in. Jonathan Cooke, our stained glass window conservation expert, removed the seven windows to be restored: four high level clerestory, the South Aisle window, the window above the main entrance door and a small window in the tower ringing chamber. Stonemasons set to work to clean out old and damaged pointing. The week ended with the architect and Ian Askins, our specialist stonemason main contractor, going to the top of the tower and then coming all the way down the scaffolding, examining every stone on the tower and west nave wall. This high level inspection was the first opportunity we have had to look at the masonry close-up (and to prod suspect stones). Unsurprisingly, it has generated some “surprises” not visible from the ground (which will use some of our contingency money within the grant scheme) but he stonemasons now have a detailed plan of what needs to be done and work has started. At the end of week two, the project was exactly on schedule.
Sadly, it has been necessary to stop the clock, so that its mechanism can be protected while the ceiling of the clock chamber (where the mechanism is housed) is repaired and the access from there into the belfry improved. To minimise risk of damage to the clock hands while exterior stonework is repaired, we have been asked to set the hands to 6.30. The clock will now be stopped until works are completed.
Signage will appear shortly, acknowledging the huge support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund for this project, as well as the grants received from the Richard lll Society and The Friends of St Mary’s. The signage will also give information on what our partners, DigVentures will be doing to promote the church’s heritage.