Restoration Update – January 2012

We are approaching the end of the restoration project for the west end of the church. The selected contractor, Lambert/Walker, have done a thoroughly professional painstaking job of removing, repairing and renewing the windows and stonework. I have climbed the scaffolding and witnessed these men lovingly applying their skills with their backs to the howling wind and rain on a cold damp January afternoon.

They are pleasant and proud of their work and talk glowingly about the quality of the windows they are restoring. Each piece of metre cube stone which is delivered from the quarry is assessed, cut, chiselled and honed until it replicates exactly what was installed over one hundred and thirty years ago. At this time of writing, the top, circular “Rose” window is complete with its segments of stained glass individually dedicated to First World War regiments. The stonework is virtually complete on the large, left hand window viewed from the inside. The large, right hand window stonework is half completed.

Work has also commenced on the two lower windows, the one on the right being a marvellous example by the celebrated Victorian master tradesman, Charles Kempe. Adroit skill and vision by our quantity surveyor, Neville Beech, enabled us to restore the two end aisle windows within the budget grant given by English Heritage.

I would think that all the work will be completed by the end of February. There was a setback in November when a flawed cube of stone was delivered from the quarry. This was only noted when work began on it. It appears that just like a piece of fruit, sometimes it looks fine on the outside but may be not so fine on the inside. This could have been a coal seam but was not considered worth taking a risk with. The flaw may have developed and deteriorated over a period of time like a tiny crack in a windscreen. The weather has not been kind to the workers either as we have experienced some fierce winds and driving rain throughout December. I look forward as I’m sure you all do to seeing the scaffolding removed and the sun shining through. We can then witness the beauty of the west end displayed without the polycarbonate protection which was in place to contain the stone debris.

Stephen Green, Churchwarden