Phase 3 application – October 2014

PHASE 3 APPLICATION – October 2014

Phase 1 was the transformation of the West gable with the huge transept windows, the Rose memorial window, the two lower and aisle end windows.

Phase 2 restored the windows on the North side of the church. They were the six high level clerestory windows and the four aisle windows. The condemned porch was also re-opened after being closed for twenty years.

The masonry supporting these exquisite Victorian and Edwardian jewels has also been lovingly restored by skilled craftsmen whose employers successfully bid for the contracts to return the stonework to their original magnificent condition. As you enter the North porch, pause and consider the intricate detail at the base of the archway.

Window guards and gutters have been replaced and steel window braces known as ferramenta have been replaced and painted.

Due to the grant reduction, the North lower roof has been repaired only and the decoration has been dealt with by members of the Men’s Working Party.

We have removed the soil from against the aisle wall in the hope that it addresses the damp ingress it was experiencing after heavy rainfall.

We have now applied for another grant which we have labelled Phase 3.

On this occasion, the grant body is no longer English Heritage. Their mantra was the preservation of listed religious places of worship. We ticked both their boxes and were twice successful. Phase 2 was acquired despite their reduced funding and in the middle of the worst recession this country has endured for decades.

The body to whom the third application was made was the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Their criteria being that any funding released would benefit the community and leave a lasting legacy for the purposes of heritage. This had to be reflected in the application which was far more intense than the previous applications which I had submitted.

The initial phone calls and inquiries confirmed that in order to restore the South side of the building, a professional assessment would need to identify that it was in urgent need of repair. Cue, the quinquennial inspection was required. This five yearly church buildings audit was overdue and had been delayed to enable Phase 2 to finish. This was also running late. The previous inspection in 2008 emphatically stated that the North, South and West sides of the church had eroded to the point that a phased restoration programme was essential if the building was to survive. However, despite the grants and ensuing works, its date, 2008, was considered too distant to be considered a meaningful priority. We had to have an up to date report which deemed the South side to be urgent and stressing the impact of not addressing the repairs. The inspection was due in 2013 but due to Phase 2 being delayed and the architects’ commitments, it was at the end of January 2014 when it finally took place. The report was sent to myself and Janet in hard copy and electronically. I read each of the thirty two pages and noted a few errors. The doorway described as having just been restored was the South porch.  The North porch was in urgent need of repair, it wrongly stated. A phone call later the electronic copy was amended and two correct reports were in the post.

Indeed, the report stressed the poor condition of the windows, the recessed pointing of the stonework and the weathered and spalled cills.  From our previous Phase 2 experience, we knew the six clerestory windows would require urgent attention. This last sentence was the key upon which our Phase 3 application would hang. As they are high level and consequently a safety issue should any collapse, their repair was paramount. The two windows nearest the altar had been restored during the late 1980’s and look apparently to be in decent condition. Until a closer inspection is made however, we will assume that some repairs are still necessary to them. An incorrect judgement from distance during Phase 2 by our architect was to prove a costly assumption to us and we have to learn from this expensive lesson. Assume they all need restoration and if not, consider it as a bonus.

A phone call to a lady from the Heritage lottery Fund was made and I forwarded the electronic copy of the report to her. Her advice was to read through the application notes and submit an initial short application describing our project and what it entailed.

I was then supplied with a project reference number and requested to select a password.

This all sounded easy and I began to feel confident that everything would fall into place.

I read in depth the information required by HLF and the difference in criteria compared to previous applications and I soon balked at the thought of applying. We had to think outside of the box to secure funding and it was a whole new set of rules which had to be absorbed if we were to have any chance of being successful. Unlike English Heritage, applications were to be submitted and assessed quarterly.

Due to personnel commitments, I couldn’t find the time to meet the March deadline. The June deadline loomed and my spare time was devoured. We needed to find a way to make the building more accessible and functional to the public and also ensure that heritage played a significant role in its future.

A quinquennial review with Anthea and the archdeacon highlighted even more strongly that we had to meet the challenge and secure a grant while they were still available. A conversation with our architect, Robin Wolley was the catalyst to resurrect the application.

A meeting was arranged for the first week in September. Our quantity surveyor, Neville Beech and the Diocesan Buildings Advisor, Ian Simpson were present. I thought we could discuss a December application. How wrong was I. Robin stressed that if we did not submit before the end of September, The Grade 1 buildings would submit theirs and ours as a Grade 2 would be devalued. An action plan was arranged each of us having a role. As the application was online, only one of us could access it at a time. I gave them my email address and the unforgettable password of stnicks. Both Ian and Neville played starring roles in this application and the greatest challenge was the lack of time. Neville did much of the costings work from home as he has a business to run during the day. Ian guided me through some tricky questions and made suggestions which were completely bizarre but convincing when reconsidered. Janet made useful inputs, rejected and compromised with others and the application slowly evolved into what we feel is a justifiable submission.

Each section of the application is covered by examples in the notes and there are restrictions in the number of words chosen. They must be selected wisely and economically.

Unfortunately, the weekend prior to submission deadline, financial information was required when both Liz, our honoured treasurer and Tim, her predecessor were on holiday. I supplied what little information I had access to and hoped it would suffice. More was required and my hair was absolutely going greyer. Liz returned from her holiday, a phone call to Neville satisfied his queries and another box was ticked.

A letter of support from Ricky Panter, our archdeacon, our annual accounts, the quinquennial inspection, photographs, a plan of the church and other supporting documentation were all attached in the application which sells our church as a visitors’ centre which engages with the community.

Ian Simpson played a major role in the application and should we be successful, we are indebted to him for his time, knowledge and sheer drive especially when I doubted it could be submitted in time.

The SUBMIT button was pressed with hours to spare and an acknowledgement was received soon after from HLF.

We now wait and pray that at the end of November, we receive the green light to proceed with the first stage of our Phase 3 project.

If so, it will mean more fund raising, more scaffolding, more dust and more disruption.

It will also mean more meetings, paperwork, emails and phone calls.

My hair is going greyer again.

Your churchwarden

Stephen Green – October 2014