Preserving the church building is an ongoing priority at all times. Regular maintenance, usually carried out by a local experienced builder, helps to reduce large expenditure – “A stitch in time saves 9”.
But some parts of the structure just naturally deteriorate over the years, and that is the case with the church tower.
Urgent attention is needed to the “crockets”, those 4 pinnacles on top of the tower. The weather has eaten away at them until the point has been reached where their condition is dangerous. A few years ago contractors covered the crockets with netting to stop pieces of masonry falling off, but they have since become more unstable.
Unfortunately, the pointing to the tower itself is in a very sorry state and all the joints need refilling.
The church clock needs to be repainted, in itself a specialist job. In fact there are only two recognised authorities on this work in the whole country.
To complicate things even further, the fact that there are 3 roofs attached to the West side of the tower means that complex scaffolding is required over a long span. The scaffolding costs will be a major part of the cost of renovation.
St Mary’s Buildings Committee, headed by Mike Wright with full-on assistance from the church architect, has already overseen the preparation of tender documents. Quotes have been received, the most acceptable of which is in the region of £200,000.
Obviously it has been necessary to find grant money, again Mike Wright at the helm, and whilst some £70,000 has been gifted already (September 2019) a further £100,000 is needed. The most likely benefactor insists on a grant application being “community” led, so it is essential to have the ACTIVE support of many various bodies and organisations in the parish, the school children, the parish council etc. In addition, the selected contractor is expected to provide trainee work placements ie. ensuring that ancient skills like masonry are perpetuated.
The hope is that during 2020 sufficient money will be in place to allow the work to commence.