August 2018: The Re-Pointing project starts!

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Home July 2018

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Churchwarden and Project Team Leader of the re-pointing project, Henry Pitt, shares the background to this important work as the scaffolding starts to go up on site.

Successive quinquennial [five yearly] inspections of St Michael’s, which are a legal requirement for Church of England churches, have shown that while the basic structure remains in a sound condition there has been a progressive deterioration in the condition of the external pointing. This has been particularly noticeable on the tower and the east gable wall. Gaps have also been noted in the pointing of the coping stones on both the east and west gables and on the roof ridge stones.

The concern was that deterioration would accelerate, especially in severe winters and that the cost of the re-pointing would increase with time. It was also clear that extensive and complex scaffolding, at considerable expense, would be needed due to the unusual architecture of the church with its central tower and side aisles.

In 2017 the Parochial Church Council decided to launch an appeal for funds to enable the work to undertaken. Generous grants have been received from:

The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Headley Trust, ChurchCare/Wolfson Foundation, Allchurches Trust, The Alan Evans Memorial Trust and the Franklin Trust. There has also been a magnificent response from church members and the wider local community.

As a result contracts for the scaffolding and the re-pointing work have now been placed and erection of the scaffolding has begun.

Because of the inaccessibility of the tower and roof without scaffolding inspections of these areas have been done using binoculars which, while enabling gaps in the pointing to be seen, do not enable the condition of the remaining pointing to be assessed. The full extent of the re-pointing needed will, therefore, only be determined by in situ inspection once the scaffolding is in place.

 

 

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To the left of the East Window is a brass memorial to Frances Dawes, the wife of Lancelot Dawes’s grandson, also called Lancelot, who died in 1673. The theology of the poem is somewhat questionable, as one William Wordsworth pointed out in his ‘Essays upon Epitaphs’: 

Under this stone, Reader, Interr’d doth lye, beauty and Vertue’s true Epitomy,
Att her appearance the noons-sun blush’d & shrunke in cause quite outdon.
In her concenter’d did all graces dwell 

god pluck’d my Rose yt he might take a smell. Ile say noe more;
but weeping wish I may soone with thy Deare chast ashes come to lay. 

Wordsworth commented that while the Latin prose is ‘the uncorrupted language of affection’, the verses seem ‘little less than impious; and … though unintentionally so, most irreverent’. The inscription originally concluded ‘Sic efflevit maritus’ (‘thus the husband weeps’). 

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The stonework of the east window is 1330. In 1910 William Fothergill Winn of Bowerbank presented the marble floor of the sanctuary, while the stained glass of the memorial window to Colonel Parkin of Sharrow Bay, dates from 1913 and depicts the Ascension and Christ as the good shepherd.

On the wooden panelling below the window (beneath a brass plate to Thomas Hodson) are the initials L.D, and the date 1609, the year after Lancelot Dawes, then of Barton Kirke, became vicar. The communion rails are said to be mid- to-late 17th century, as is the bishop’s chair in the vestry. 

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