Half Way There

Work is proceeding well and only slightly behind schedule. Most of the carpentry has been done – mainly the repairs to the tower and south aisle roofs. The covering of the aisle roof remains to be done as does more stonework and reinstating the aisle.

Rotten rafter from S aisle roof

Rotten rafter from S aisle roof

We have been fortunate that the cost has not been as high as we feared. Much of the structure needing repair was covered and inaccessible until work started: for instance the south aisle roof rafters were hidden by a ceiling and only parts of that were removed to inspect the timbers. This means that the sum allowed for these contingencies has not been needed.

That means we can do more work than originally planned and we will be repairing more of the stonework on the tower. Apart from normal wear from the weather much of the tower has suffered from being repointed with cement. This is hard and not porous so moisture gets trapped within the stonework and that causes it to decay. Where practicable the cement pointing will be replaced by lime mortar.

The scaffolding is up

When you visit the church it is obvious that work is in progress. The tower and much of the south (far) side of the church are covered with scaffolding. There is also scaffolding in the bell chamber in the tower and in a few days it will also be in the south aisle which will then be inaccessible.

By then the real work will have started. As the roofs are opened up we will find out whether their condition is as predicted or, perhaps, worse!

Our neighbours may have noticed the roof alarm going off when the builders arrived – a nuisance not only for residents but also for the keyholders who had to turn out to deal with the problem and the builders who were deafened by the siren. It should have been turned off automatically in the morning but, following an upgrade, there was a bug in the  software at the alarm company’s control centre which was supposed to do that. It has now been fixed and we hope there will be no further problems.

How the works will affect us

This post contains the text of an article in the May edition of the parish magazine.

By the time you read this the builders should be at work – they were due to start on 28 April. The work involves extensive repair and renewal to the south aisle roof and repairs to the tower roof and the stonework of its parapets. It is expected to take about six months.

Use of the church

During this time the south aisle will be closed but otherwise Sunday services and most other activities should continue more or less as normal though subject to some disturbance from the builders during the week. Arrangements have been made for the builders to stop work for funerals and weddings.

The work on the tower will prevent the clock operating and the ringing of the bells during most of the period of the works.

The Churchyard

The work will involve interference with the use of parts of the churchyard. There will be a secure compound for the builders to the east (lower) side of the churchyard gate between the wall and the path to the lower part of the churchyard. There will be scaffolding on the south (far) side and west (tower) sides of the church. This scaffolding will be enclosed by security fencing which will prevent access to the memorials near the church. The small area with plaques over interments of ashes against the south wall of the church can be visited during the builders’ working hours but visitors must contact the site foreman first as there may be work going on overhead.  Because of this the path on the west side past the tower will be closed. Regrettably this means that the only access to the Garden of Remembrance will be round the east (lower) side of the church. We realise this will be an unwelcome inconvenience but unfortunately it is unavoidable.

Parking & access

The builders will need to make deliveries to the church and this will involve lorries using the approach road between Butchers Hill and the churchyard gates. We hope this will not cause too much inconvenience to those who use it. Where we know when deliveries will take place we will try and warn those who live nearby and may ask them not to park there at certain times. As we do not know all the people who park there we cannot be sure of warning all those who may be affected. While we will try and keep inconvenience to a minimum this is a private road and, as far as we know, no one has a legal right to park there.

Security

We are concerned about security as building works can attract thieves and vandals. It would be appreciated if you could look out for them and inform the police, vicar or me if you see anything suspicious. On working days between about 8am and 5pm the builders will be there and able to control this. Outside those times anyone on the church roofs or using ladders is likely to be up to no good.

If you want  our news posts sent to you by email just complete the “Subscribe to our Newsfeed” box on the fhome page and follow the instructions.

Andrew Moffat

Work is about to Start

Graffiti on tower roof

Inscription on tower roof

The builders will start work on Monday 28 April and the work will take about six months. It will take a few weeks before all the scaffolding and preparations are complete and building work will start. Then the builders will be hard at work on the South aisle roof and the tower roof and parapets.

There will be a lot of construction work because the temporary covering will have to be removed from the South aisle roof and a lot of carpentry carried out to repair the rafters that have been damaged over the centuries by damp, rot and death watch beetle. The opportunity will be taken to improve the gutters and some other features before a permanent covering is laid.

Tower roof graffiti (2)

Graffiti on tower roof

The tower roof requires less structural work. The lead covering should only need repair and re-laying. Every effort will be taken to preserve the historic graffiti on the lead. At the same time the drainage will be improved and stonework of the parapets and stair turret will be repaired. Unfortunately funds will not allow further repair of the tower stonework which we had hoped to carry out while the scaffolding is in place.

Services will continue in the church as usual as only the South aisle will be out of operation but the bells and clock will be out of operation for part of the time. There will be some inconvenience caused by deliveries as lories will have to use the approach road and get close to the churchyard gates.

The work will involve interference with the use of parts of the churchyard. There will be a secure compound for the builders in the churchyard ..There will be scaffolding on the south (far) side and west (tower) sides of the church. This scaffolding will be enclosed by security fencing which will prevent access to the memorials near the church, particularly the small area with plaques over interments of ashes against the south wall of the church.  Because of this the path on the west side past the tower will be closed. Regrettably this means that the only access to the Garden of Remembrance will be round the east (lower) side of the church. We realise this will be an unwelcome inconvenience but unfortunately it is unavoidable.

We are concerned about security as building works can attract thieves and vandals. It would be appreciated if you could look out for them and inform the police, vicar or me if you see anything suspicious. On working days between about 8am and 5pm the builders will be there and able to control this. Outside those times anyone on the church roofs or using ladders is likely to be up to no good.

Andrew Moffat

Alarm on the Roof

Theft of metal from church roofs has been a big problem for churches for some years – a problem not just for churches but also their insurers to the extent that Ecclesiastical Insurance’s standard cover for theft of metals is only £5,000; that does not go very far if a whole roof has to be re-covered. This means that measures to prevent these thefts are probably more important than insurance.

In preparation for the re-covering of the South aisle roof at St Peter & St Paul, as well as to protect the metal roof coverings elsewhere, a new sophisticated roof alarm has been installed. This will sense the presence of anyone on the roof and set of a loud alarm siren and flashing light as well as alert a monitoring service so the police can be called. The aim is to stop thieves before they do any damage rather than to catch them after the damage has been done, though “Smartwater” has been applied as well to assist in recovering metal if it is stolen. Ecclesiastical Insurance is promoting the use of this alarm and has doubled our cover for theft of metal.

A Big Grant

English Heritage has just increased our grant for the repairs to the tower and south aisle roofs by £16,000 to £48,000. We still need more money but this is sufficient for us to start the repairs. The next step is a meeting of all the professionals and contractors involved, signing the building contract and fixing a start date. We hope work will start in April and take six months.

This comes on top of a large grant of £22,500 from the Friends of Kent Churches which was awarded last year. The Friends raise money for making grants for the repair of historic churches of all denominations. They do this principally from their annual sponsored Ride & Stride event.

Last year was taken up with obtaining reports and investigations, preparing plans & specifications, getting permission for the work and inviting tenders. This part of the project alone cost £21,000!  Three quarters of this was paid for by English Heritage.

When the tenders came in the lowest was £16,000 more that had been estimated by English Heritage and our quantity surveyor. When we applied to English Heritage in December for confirmation of its “in principal” grant of £32,000 for the building work we also asked for an increase in the grant. We were warned that others also wanted some of the limited funds available and so were surprised to get the full amount.

We are still about £50,000 short of our fund raising target. Applications have been made for some more grants and we hope more donations will be received from within the parish before the work is completed. It’s not too late to give!

The Roof Blog

We will be running a blog reporting on progress with the project and this will also be the first post in the blog. Look for “Roof blog” in the main menu.