Much restoration work has been carried out on the fabric of St Martin’s Church over the years since the 19th Century, when it first underwent a major restoration to save it from almost complete ruin. That restoration took place in 1865 at a cost of £2,000.
More recently, a major project was undertaken in 2014 when the outside stonework of the church was re-pointed. This together with the replacement of all the rainwater goods, some stonework, the bell support beam within the tower and other necessary work was completed at a cost of £180,000. St Martin’s congregation raised considerable funds towards this project and is very grateful to the contributions made by The Heritage Lottery Fund, Cadw and other grant givers.
In 2017, the parish is planning to embark upon another phase of restoration, this time focused mainly on the interior of the church. The Parish Warden, Mr Brian Body, reports on the proposed plans:-
Fabric Update 2017
It is now 17 months since parishioners were asked how best to use the proceeds from the sale of Lambston Church on the fabric of St Martin’s. I am sure that many of you are wondering what the outcome of the survey was and what is happening now. Nearly 40 questionnaires were returned, and I am grateful to everyone who took the time to consider what could be done to maintain our wonderful church. The following is a list of the tasks given highest priority:-
- Redecorate the church interior
- Replace the boiler
- Seal the boiler room walls
- Replace the carpet / restore the tiled floor
- Upgrade the organ
- Replace the curtain in the Lady Chapel
No work can be undertaken within the church without the authority of the Diocese in the form of a Faculty signed by the Diocesan Chancellor. Three Faculty applications were submitted to the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) in June 2016. One combined the first four tasks listed above together with an additional task to repair a leak from the roof down the interior church wall. The other two were for the last two items on the list above. The Faculty form runs to eight or so pages and is relatively simple to fill in; it is the accompanying specifications and technical drawings, following numerous meetings with architects, builders and consultants that take the time.
The DAC approved the latter applications but required additional information (another 40 pages!) on the major tasks. Final approval was given towards the end of 2016 with the DAC advising the Chancellor to sign the Faculties, with one amendment. We were unable to give full details of what we wanted to do concerning the floor tiles and carpet. The carpet is stuck to the tiles, and where we are able to lift the carpet we can see that the tiles are badly cracked and damaged. This element of the faculty was withdrawn, however we have permission to investigate further (in the presence of an archaeologist, – you never know what we might find under the tiles!) and then to re-submit the faculty application at a later date.
So what next?
Over the next few months the road outside St Martin’s and the church path around the church will be dug up to install a gas supply to the base of the tower. The loose plaster will be removed from the interior church walls to complete the drying out process. Detailed specifications for the new gas boiler and controls will be compiled prior to going out to tender for the boiler installation. Once the old boiler is switched off at the end of April it will be decommissioned and then removed together with the oil tank and chimney. All the pipe work and radiators, which are in good condition, will be flushed through and then the radiators removed for sandblasting prior to repainting. The boiler room will be cleaned and re-pointed if necessary prior to lime painting. A new boiler will be fitted and connected to the gas supply and pipe work. Finally the church will be redecorated. Hopefully the funds available following the sale of Lambston Church will be sufficient to cover all the costs of this work. This will all take time, will be messy and will need everyone’s co-operation whilst work is in progress. It may be necessary at times to hold services in the hall.
It is not possible to fund the work necessary on the organ, or the replacement of the curtain in the Lady Chapel from the proceeds of the sale of Lambston, as these are deemed non-fabric work. The new oak screens in the Lady Chapel will be funded by The Friends of St Martin’s and hopefully will be in place in the next month. Any work on the organ will require major grant applications and specific fundraising. The work required is estimated at £25,000. More of this next month, together with an article on the organ.
I hope that this has provided, in simple terms, an idea of what is happening concerning the fabric of St Martin’s. If anyone requires a more detailed explanation or sight of some of the paperwork, you only have to ask! All this work will get the Church in good working and decorative order, which will be easier to maintain. With everyone’s help I hope we can maintain its good looks for a while as in three years time St Martin’s will be celebrating its 900th Anniversary. Is it too early to start planning?
Brian Body (Parish Warden)