It was on Monday 25 April 2016 that contractors arrived at the site of Saint Mary the Virgin and All Saints’ Church, Fotheringhay, to begin the work to establish a new drainage system externally and install toilets, create a kitchen servery and flower preparation facility, as part of the project to improve the facilities within the building.
With that phase of work completed, the church now has new perforated collector land drains, complete with catch pits and inspection chambers constructed and a more effective drainage system, foul drain and trench arch installed. The work to provide universally accessible and unisex toilet facilities has also been completed. The kitchen servery and flower preparation facilities have been installed and are fully operational.
The month of June 2017 saw contractors arrive at the site of St Mary & All Saints Church, Fotheringhay, to begin the seventeen month programme of restoration and refurbishment, involving the replacement of the four roofs, north and south aisle, nave and tower, the repair and cleaning of windows, the renewal of gutterings, rainwater goods and ironmongery and the renovation of masonry.
Initially, the most obvious aspect of the work undertaken was the construction of a massive scaffolding and temporary roof structure covering the tower and nave. Once the scaffolding was of sufficient height contractors began the task of removing the tower roof, at which point it became clear that the concealed structural timbers had slowly disintegrated as time had been ticking away. The wall plates needed to be replaced and the spanning timbers needed to be reinforced with additive structural splices.
Bespoke beams of fine grain oak, selected for its strength, resilience and longevity, have now replaced ‘the old,’ wearied by the ravages of time and climate, in the hope that ‘the new’ may serve their purpose for the next five hundred years. The tower roof has been completely renewed, with recycled lead covering including ancient graffiti and new access dormer and ladder. New tower drainage spouts have been installed and the re-gilded Fetterlock and Falcon weathervane is once again in position. The blown leaded windows in the octagonal lantern tower have been reglazed and replaced. Tower masonry drainage guttering has been refurbished and asphalt painted. The original lead louvres of the tower were cleaned and reinstated and repairs have been effected to the casement windows of the ringing chamber.
Trusses supporting the nave roof were investigated and replaced where rot was identified, a consequence of defective drainage.
Masonry work has been undertaken at all levels from the tower down with new stone pieces carved when the old was not salvageable. Glazing specialists raced ahead of the scaffolders making maximum use of the scaffolding immediately prior to it being struck, leaving the windows visibly cleaner.
By the end of November 2018, with work completed, all major building contractors vacated the site and the work to renew the pew heating, to upgrade the electrical supply and switching systems was concluded.
Report of Churchwarden – Bill James
The renovation project at The Church of Saint Mary and All Saints, Fotheringhay, continues apace, with all exterior work on the tower complete down to nave level and tower scaffolding, including all structural beams, removed to allow work on the nave roof itself to progress.
Carpentry on the nave is now complete, with the lead ridge detail set to be finished by mid-August. Lead work to the rest of the nave roof is scheduled to be completed by the end of the month.
Carpentry and lead work to both aisles is complete and the installation of lead rainwater gutters and drainpipes has begun.
The majority of the masonry work is complete, with the exception of the East Gable which will not be completed until the scaffolding has been removed from that area.
Cleaning and decoration of windows is still to be agreed, subject to inspection and approval of sample areas.
Given that there will be an intense level of activity related to the removal of scaffolding poles and the presence of contractors’ vehicles immediately in front of the main north doors, the Churchwardens have agreed a request that the church remains effectively closed to visitors during the working week, throughout the month of August.
The programme is progressing according to schedule.
The stonemasons at work on the church of Saint Mary and All Saints, Fotheringhay, might have been forgiven had they been heard to be humming the rather dubious and politically incorrect 1949 composition of Cole Porter entitled, “It’s Too Darn Hot!”
Whilst the lyrics don’t bear close scrutiny, the sentiment seems right enough: it’s too hot to be doing anything. In the cold Spring of this year, the stonemasons claimed to prefer warmer climes and restricted their mortaring to the more clement periods of dry and above four degrees.
Now, in the Summer, it is the pervasive heat that is restricting their ability to make progress; it being so hot that the mortar dries too quickly, resulting in an unsatisfactory finish.
To compensate, our stonemasons are arriving on site at 6:00am, ‘to get cracking’ early, before the mortar does the same!
Tower scaffolding coming down!
We are very excited to be able to report that all the high-level repair works to the weathervane and the major repairs to the timbers and lead of the tower roof have been completed.
Also, the very high-level stonework repairs to the tower have been done and as a result the scaffolding has started to come down from the tower. The amount of work has been vastly more than we had expected, and costs currently are around £200,000 over budget. The HB Allen Charitable Trust has very generously offered to cover a major part of these costs and the cost of restoring the weathervane has been paid for by a new £10,000 grant from the Masons together with the fundraising opportunity provided by an open day and the unique opportunity of visits to the top of the scaffolding offered to friends on Saturday 21st April which raised £2,100.
We are now confident that the tower is watertight probably for the first time in a hundred years or more! We can now admire the falcon and fetterlock weathervane in all its re-gilded glory!
There are still some stonework repairs to the tower walls, repair work to the windows in the tower and the cleaning of the big west window to be completed before the scaffolding can be taken down to ground level but this is all likely to be done within a month or so.
Replacement of the leadwork and supporting oak on the south aisle is nearly finished and similar work on the north aisle is well advanced.
Inside the church, work in the north aisle is well on the way to completion and the removal of the interior scaffolding will start soon.
The east end of the church needs more in the way of stonework repair and repointing than we had expected, and this will cost a considerable amount more than we had been expecting but we do not have final figures yet.
“Roof Scaffolding tops out on 25th September 2017″
It is with great pleasure that we are able to post this picture of the church with the tower fully scaffolded.
The nave and side aisles are still to be scaffolded but the temporary roof will go on the tower and work on the tower roof could start next week!”