28th May 2014
The reappearance of scaffolding around the church denotes that we have started the second stage of repairing the church roof. It will be remembered that, during the work in 2011 to re-lead the south aisle and transept roofs, it was discovered that the nave roof supports were inadequately tied into the nave walls. A temporary repair was made then, but it was recognised that a more permanent solution would be needed in the near future. This work is now being carried out and the opportunity taken to make some high level repairs to the stonework. Though most of this work is external, there will be an occasional need for scaffolding inside the church.
At the same time as this work is being done, we are making some improvements internally. The main access to the church through the west door is hazardous and will be improved by moving the steps away from the church door. Glass doors will be installed at the entrance to the church with the current internal oak doors moved to become the porch doors. Further, a low dais will be built into the nave from the crossing together with new communion rails. This work will require us to use Church House for services for a few weeks this summer.
It is hoped that all this work will be completed by mid September. The cost is, of course, considerable, but we have been greatly helped by generous grants from English Heritage (using funds furnished by the Heritage Lottery Fund), Buckinghamshire Historic Churches Trust, the Garfield Weston Foundation, the Allchurches Trust (the Ecclesiastical Insurance Company charity) and a fund administered by the Archdeacon of Buckinghamshire. The locality has to provide, though, a substantial proportion of the cost. Most of this has been promised by our excellent Friends of St Mary’s organisation but we still have to find some additional money. Donations to help with the shortfall would be welcomed by our Treasurer, Chris Mundy.
Unfortunately these two projects are not the end of what is required to keep the church fabric whole. We are aware of significant work required to the chancel walls and roof. There are several cracks in the walls, the east window is being twisted and there is a large number of death watch beetles present resulting from water getting into the roof. Investigation work will be carried this year, preparatory to a further major project being carried out next year.
The project to repair and re-lead the nave and north aisle roofs, plus high level stonework, suffered an early setback when the timberwork beneath the old lead sheeting was found to be in worse condition than had been expected. In consequence additional supports had to be manufactured, and there was need for substantially more scaffolding inside the church. This project is now running well, but is unfortunately several weeks behind schedule and £20,000 above budget.
Work inside the church to reorder the west porch, and the installation of the dais will start in September, but could be affected by difficulties in obtaining the necessary matching stone, which is in short supply. It is therefore almost certain that work on the two projects will run on into October, necessitating the continued use of Church House for services
The project to repair the walls and roof of the chancel, together with the east window has now received financial support from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Investigation work will be carried out this autumn to determine the extent of repairs needed, in preparation for a further major project in 2015.