Church Tower repairs 2016
Like many country churches it is a constant struggle to keep the building watertight and for a number of years the 15th century tower roof had been severely leaking, seriously compromising the condition of the timbers. The most recent quinquennial* report produced in June 2014 stated this could not be allowed to continue and recommended urgent replacement of the tower roof in its entirety and various repairs to the rainwater goods.
This was going to be very expensive. With a small rural congregation, it was unrealistic to expect to be able to raise the necessary funds from the immediate community especially when each neighbouring parish has the responsibility of the upkeep of its own church. Realising these limitations, the PCC had no option but to seek funding from outside sources.
This happened at around the same time as a government fund to provide funding to repair listed church roofs was introduced. This fund was for urgent repairs to public places of worship across the UK with the intention of making them weather-tight, safe and open for use. The Fund was administered by the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF) on behalf of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
There were lots of hoops to jump through involving piles of paperwork and deadlines to be met but The PCC were very fortunate to hear in March 2015 that they had secured a grant from the Government's Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund.
The grant awarded funded the following together with associated professional costs.
· replacing the copper tower roof with lead which has a longer life span
· associated timber repairs
· re-pointing inner tower parapets and pinnacles and re-pointing the upper stage of the tower as
they were allowing water penetration
· adjusting the turret stair door to improve weathering against driving rain.
· extend tower rainwater spout which was too short allowing water to wash down the masonry
· replacing and repairing rainwater goods
· repair and replace slates
The Roof Repair Fund would only fund work to the upper stages of the church tower but since scaffolding and the preliminary work necessary for such a project would already be in place the PCC sought other funding to carry out the re-pointing to the bottom two thirds of the tower where the cement had started to fail. Again, we were extremely fortunate when The Garfield Weston Foundation very generously provided the funding towards this extra re-pointing which allowed it to be carried out at the same time as the main project.
A bat survey had found evidence indicative of medium sized bat species, possibly long-eared or Natterer’s bats which meant works needed to take place at a specific time so as not to disturb their roosts when they are most vulnerable. In order to work within the timeframes of the Roof Repair Fund and the above bat window the project had to commence in March 2016 which it did and was successfully completed within time and budget.
In August 2016 the Church held a special service to celebrate the dedication of their newly repaired and repointed tower and rainwater goods with the Archdeacon of Barnstaple, Rev. Dr. Mark Butchers. The service was conducted by the Rev. Jane Lucas and Dr. Butchers.
*The Church of England's quinquennial inspection system provides for the inspection of church buildings every five years by an architect or chartered building surveyor (hereafter referred to as 'professional advisers' approved by the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC). The quinquennial report is one of the key documents which assists the Parochial Church Council (PCC) in the care and repair of a church building, for which it is legally responsible. It gives a snapshot of the repair needs of the building, and lists the repairs required according to their priority. It is also read by the DAC, the archdeacon and by any grant-giving bodies which the PCC approaches