Restoring the Church

Church Restoration Blog

Now that work on the church has actually started, it seems like a good time to create a new website section on the progress of this work.  The articles in this section are organised as a "blog", with the most recent articles displayed first (ie you need to scroll right down to the bottom, starting with "Church Restoration Background" if you want to read the whole blog from the beginning, in sequence).

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The work on the nave ceiling is now complete and the interior scaffolding is coming down, but some temporary additional scaffolding has been erected to carry out further repairs to the outside of the building, of which more below. 

Danny's photos below show aspects of the new ceiling in all its glory!

Nave Ceiling 2

 Ceiling 1Stencils on CeilingCeiling 2

 

 

 

Note the exquisite detailing of the mouldings and the soft brown colouring of the chancel ceiling, chosen to be faithful to Barry's original design (the only trouble is it highlights the shabby state of the adjacent walls - let's hope the Diocese can get funding to address these too before long!).  The image on the right shows a corner during the work where some of the original stencilling was preserved - I'm not sure whether it's still there.  And now for a view of the whole nave.  Magnificent isn't it?

Whole Nave Processed

 

Rosie, from the Diocese, has kindly sent us the following update on the works:

"Thanks for your email. The works should now be complete mid August as we decided to undertake extra repairs whilst we were on site.  The ceiling has been fully repaired and decorated. We have replaced / repaired two badly eroded pinnacles on the north elevation and repaired 4 clerestory windows with working casements to enable natural ventilation in the building.  This scaffolding should come down at the beginning of August.  The internal scaffolding is currently being taken down and then we will undertake works to a number of the pew platforms to create a level access within parts of the building. 

I’m fundraising for further funding so we can install meanwhile uses in the building and so this is a work in progress at the moment. 

We are still in the the process of negotiating funding for the Crypt and I’ll let you have an update on that as soon as I know."  

 

A clerestory window is simply a window placed high up on a wall, above eye-level, so as to flood the interior space with attractive ambient light.  If the windows can be opened, they also serve the useful purpose of providing natural ventilation.  The Cloudesley clerestory windows are leaded glass, casement windows and Danny and his team have taken the opportunity to repair the opening mechanisms as well as the actual windows and the surrounding stonework, as you can see in the "before and after" photos below left.  The photo on the right is from the inside - note the intricate patterning of the leaded glass in the top section, and the "hopper window" in the open position (controlled using a rope and pulley system).

 

 Window Inside 1Window BeforeClerestory window under repair showing leaded glass and casement mechanism

 

The pinnacles along each side of the nave roof were repaired as part of work which took place about 20 years ago.  The present work is to the stone blocks on which they sit, as you can see in the photos below.  Hopefully the whole nave is now sound for a century or two!

Pinnacle 3

Pinnacle 1Pinnacle 2

 

Update, 4.8.21

Yesterday, I got chatting to Glenn, who is working on the clerestory windows.  He told me that he used to be employed by Dove Brothers, and remembers first working on Holy Trinity Church as a 17 year old in 1974!  He says it's great to be back!

 

Gardening Update

The "Cornfield Mix" wildflowers which were sown earlier in the year, mainly in the south-east corner of the churchyard (i.e., the view from my bedroom!), have proved surprisingly successful and the roses trained up the railings are also thriving, as you can see.

Wildflowers 1

Wildflowers 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wildflowers 4Wildflowers 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to the supplier's notes, I think I can identify:

  • Cornflowers (blue)
  • Corncockles (purple)
  • Corn Marigolds (yellow) - also some of Jo's Marigolds (orange)
  • Corn Chamomile (white)
  • Common Poppy (red) - also some of Jo's Opium and Welsh Poppies

Sadly, almost nothing has emerged in the areas closer to the church, apart from weeds (Dog's Mercury and Green Alkanet, mostly).  These areas were sown with "Woodland Flower Mix" - maybe they will appear later in the summer or next year, or maybe there's just not enough light.

 

 

The four hard hat tours of the nave ceiling, advertised in the last newsletter, were a big success.  Danny not only gave up his Saturdays, but guided us up the ladders on the second Saturday with a broken ankle!  He gave us a hands-on demonstration of the lath and plaster technique described in the last blog post and also explained how the many ornaments on the ceiling have been reproduced using plaster molds.  When I went up we nagged him to let us each have a plaster ornament to take away - see below.  Given that these were rejects, the level of craftsmanship is remarkable.

Rosie will be posting further details of the tours on the CloudesleyCentre website.  Meanwhile, here are a couple of photos which I took, as well as photos of my own plaster cast, both in its original form and after I was inspired to paint it!  Whether this is anything like the correct colour scheme I have no idea!

 

Plaster Stuff 2Danny and Rosie 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plaster Cast Original

Plaster Cast Painted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later: here's some photos which Jenny took on the tour.  Bear in mind that everything which looks like wood is in fact painted plaster.  It's incredible the trouble Barry and his men went to, especially given that no-one would see their work up close until 200 years later!

DSCN3579DSCN3579DSCN3582

 

 

Nave Ceiling

The whole of the nave ceiling is being replaced with new lath and plaster panels.

The diagram below shows how this is done.  Lime plaster is applied in three or more layers to "laths" - thin strips of wood - attached to the ceiling joists.  The hand-riven chestnut laths have a rough surface which improves the adhesion of the plaster.  More importantly, when the first, render layer is applied, much of the plaster is forced through the gaps between the laths where it spills over to form "keys" or "snots", which hold the plaster up when they harden.  When Islington was bombed during WW2, the vibrations often fractured the snots, weakening the lath and plaster ceilings in our houses, some of which then sagged and eventually collapsed many years later (I speak from experience!).

 

lath plaster

 

The first layer of plaster usually contains horse hair for extra strength.  After the first two layers are applied, they are scored then left to dry out, to provide a secure key for the next layer.  This can be seen in the photos below.

LathsScored Plaster 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here's a picture spanning the whole width of the nave roof showing work in progress.

Nave Ceiling

 

Gardening

Meanwhile, as a separate activity, we've been tidying up the churchyard and planting seeds on the South side.  As previously explained, there is a limit to what can be done at this stage since parts of the garden will need to be dug up again soon for drainage and other infrastructure works.  But we've mowed the grass and planted a lot of wildflower seeds - a "woodland mix" in the more shady areas such as up against the church itself and against the garden walls, and a "cornfield mix" everywhere else.  Hopefully this will result in a riot of colour in the summer!  Jo Murray also donated a number of other types of seed.  And some roses and other climbers have been planted at the edges of the churchyard to grow up the railings.  Here's a plan of the planting scheme for those of us eager to see what grows where in the months to come!

Planting Plan South April 2021

 

Update: early May

Several neighbours have kindly donated plants to the garden.  Jo from Barnsbury Street has added five more geraniums to her previous contributions.  Josie-Anne from the Square has given us a Marguerite and three Agapanthus.  And Louise from Cloudesley Street has contributed two large yew bushes which we've transplanted either side of the South gate; these had rather sparse roots so it's not certain they will survive, but if they do they will be a fine addition to the churchyard!  

Meanwhile, a profusion of green shoots are pushing up in all the areas above where wildflower seeds were sown.  Of course these could all be weeds - it's too early to tell - but hopefully they will burst into bloom in the not too distant future.  All the climbers seem to be thriving apart from the "Pink Perpetue" rose which was dug up, probably by a fox, and now looks rather poorly.  And of course the pre-existing bluebells and alkanet have been magnificent over the past month (alkanet, related to comfrey, is usually regarded as a weed, but I love its blue flowers).

Cross

Finally, it's taken a long time to get it into place, but the new stone cross over the South porch is a joy to behold:

New Cross 1

New Cross 2

Danny Cross

 

Fullers are making excellent progress on the church.  The scaffolding around the North aisle has come down and work has started inside the church on the nave ceiling.

 

The North aisle is now more or less completely repaired.  Linda Payne, who lives on the North Side of the Square, has emailed us to say “What a joy it is now to look out onto a much improved church exterior!” – my sentiments too, from a Southern perspective!  Here’s Linda’s photo showing the brand new roof:

IMG 20210224 142503006 Linda 2

 

Here’s a close-up of the roof taken by Danny:

Roof Danny

 

And here’s the view South from Stonefield Street:

View South

 

Note the new stonework around the porch.  The pièce de résistance is the new cross at the top of the porch which I spotted beforehand in Danny’s office.  As always, it has been carved in bath stone by Wells Cathedral Stonemasons.  Here’s some close ups, before and after:

Cross 1Cross 2Cross 3

 

The main task inside the church is to install a new nave ceiling – a massive job.  To do this, the interior has been filled with scaffolding to provide a platform at the top for working on the ceiling.

Scaffolding Inside

 

The ceiling will be repaired using traditional lath and plaster.  The laths are chestnut wood and have been split, naturally, in the British style, rather than cut – a truly authentic touch!

Laths

 

The ceiling is in a fairly dreadful state, as are the beams.  Like the beams in the aisles these are not made of wood, although you wouldn't know from below, but have instead been moulded from plaster.  Many will need to be repaired and/or reinforced with steel beams.

Beam 1

Beam 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finally, above the chancel, a special treat!  Some intricately designed decorations which you’d never guess were there looking up from below.  And the whole ceiling is decorated with golden stars!  Will they be restored?  Let’s hope so!

Ornament 1

 Ornament 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stars

 

 

 

As promised, the repair of the north aisle is almost complete and the scaffolding should be coming down soon.  Unsurprisingly, the work has largely been a repeat of the work on the south aisle, reported on in earlier posts.

First, some pictures of the damage to wood, stone, brick, and plaster, which, once again, was extensive.

Wood Damage 1Stone Damage 1Brick Damage 1Plaster Damage 1

 

Now some pictures of the repairs.  Note the widespread use of reinforcing steel beams and wood inserts.  The large triangular wooden structure is a splice in the north aisle roof.

Gutter 1Wood Splice 1Steel Beam 1Steel Beam 2 Rotated

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, the end results.  Once again, the tiles are welsh slate, the new stonework is bath stone from Wells Cathedral Stonemasons, the new gutter is lined with lead and specially designed cast iron drainpipes have been fitted.  Note the black steel bars attached to the wall above the roof.  These were there when the work commenced (also on the south aisle) and Danny believes they were put up to hold the scaffolding for the previous nave roof repairs - if so, they've come in handy again as you can see.

 

New Roof 1New Stonework 1New Tiles 1New Roof 3

 

Next week, scaffolding will go up within the church so that the badly damaged ceiling of the nave can be repaired using traditional lath and plaster techniques.  

We leave you with Danny's magnificent photo of the nave roof, looking West.

Nave Roof Looking West

 

With the opening up of the south aisle, some mysterious blue and red markings have appeared on the inside wall of the church where the ugly muddy-yellow plaster has peeled away.  Jenny says these are the remains of stencils around the windows which she remembers from a choral event staged in the church back in the 1980s.  She claims they were attractive floral designs in the style of William Morris and if you look closely you can indeed make out some leaves and I for one think they still have a certain charm!  Despite looking through the records, we can find no references to when these decorations were added or why, and sadly, no photographs of them in their prime.  Perhaps someone still has a picture or two?

 

Stencils 1.1

Stencils 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stencils 3

 

 

 

 

Today's the day!  (Wednesday, November 11).  After 5 long years the scaffolding is finally coming down from the turrets at the west end of the church.  For those of us on the west side of Cloudesley Square this is good news indeed!

Before turning to the appearance of the new, improved turrets themselves, here's what's been happening over the last month, illustrated as always by Danny's fine photos.

Work on the north aisle is well underway.  As with the south aisle, a temporary roof has been installed and the slates removed to reveal the rafters.  Once again this has revealed significant damage.  The damage to the wood is slightly less because the trees on this side are smaller and don't overhang the roof as much - note that the ends of the rafters where they meet the gutters are not rotted as much as they were on the south roof.  But the damage to stonework and brickwork is worse - probably because there is just more "weather" from the north.  Oddly, however, the pointing is in slightly better condition - perhaps it was carried out with better materials or skill.  The internal plaster beams are in a fairly sorry state, though.

North Aisle 1

 

Wood Damage 1

 

Brick and Stone damage 1

 

Beam Damage 1

 

Turning to the towers, here are some photos which Danny took at the top.  First, a view of the nave roof looking east.  This is in good condition - it was repaired in a major renovation project some years ago which, sadly, ran out of money! 

Nave Roof 1

 

Second, a photo of the original bell which is still there in the tower on the right.  Note that the interior walls of the tower are in quite a good condition, in contrast to the detailed stone carving on the outside which is badly weathered.

Bell in Right Tower

 

Jenny has unearthed the following amusing report about this bell from the Islington Gazette of 1857:

Islington Gazette 10 January 1857

Noisy “Ben” of Trinity

"Sir, I believe any subject connected with the Parish of Islington, finds a ready place in your columns, more particularly if the same is regarded by a number of parishioners as a positive nuisance, and one to be corrected. You must understand that there are two bells bearing the name of “Ben”, one is the fine toned “Big Ben of Westminster”, and the other, as above being a bell hung in the turret, of the Holy Trinity Church in Cloudesley Square, which is altogether un-musical and jarring to the ear as “Big Ben of Westminster" is pleasing. The nuisance is that the bell is tolled for half an hour on Sunday mornings, and the same length of time in the evenings, during which time any persons residing in the square, or immediate thereto, are compelled to shut all doors and windows to keep out as much as possible the horrible Dong! dong! dong! of this very noisy bell, which, by the way, is tolled by a very energetic person, who evidently prides himself in keeping pace with time, for I believe sometimes he “dongs” out 60 “dongs” in a minute. Should any person passing through the square at the time this bell is being tolled meet a friend, they cannot converse until they get a respectable distance away, or they could not hear themselves speak."

 

The turrets have been carefully wrapped in special (highly expensive!) stainless steel mesh which is then bolted either directly on to the stone or on to wooden battens running up the sides.  Sturdy blue tapes are then bound round the mesh for good measure.  The effect is undoubtedly far superior to the previous ugly plastic and will hopefully stabilise the turrets and protect passers-by from falling masonry until such time as funds are raised to carry out detailed restoration work on the external stonework.

Turret 1Middle of turret 1 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, here's the result.  This was the view from my bedroom window this morning with the sunlight glinting off the turrets.  What a difference!  I think they look great!  What does everyone else think (feel free to comment below)?

From Bedroom 1

 

Left Tower Scaffolding RemovalRight Tower in Sunlight

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Later Addition: And here's another photo, complete with rainbow, captured by Lawrence from No 9.

Rainbow Turret 1

Kevin Rogers has circulated this letter updating neighbours on progress at the church, as previously mentioned in "Breaking News".  The letter included details of a zoom talk to be given on Thursday 29th October and sure enough, this was delivered last night to a large and appreciative audience.

The Diocese have been approached to convert the crypt into an "Ossuary" or "Bone Library".  This will be a world-class facility for medical and historical research housing bone specimens from some 5000 skeletons!

Roger Bowdler from the Diocesan Advisory Committee gave us an entertaining and instructive talk about the history and present use of crypts in London churches.  The use of crypts for burials has gone in and out of fashion from medieval times up to 1854 when all city burials ceased.  Roger drew a distinction between the use of crypts for private burials as was the case at Holy Trinity versus "charnel vaults" containing thousands of bones and open to the public.  Only two of the latter still exist in the UK, one of which is the ossuary at St Leonards in Hythe, below.

Skulls - St Leonards Ossuary p1012857

St Martins Crypt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most of the 19th century London Commissioners Churches used crypts for burials.  St Martin's-in-the-Fields in 1915 was the first to convert to a secular use - in this case the popular cafe above.  Since then, many of these attractive spaces have been used in a variety of ways and Roger showed several examples.

Architects Bob Wilson and Joseph Edwards then presented their plans for Holy Trinity including an impressive 3D model.  There are 4 vaults and the existing 150 coffins will be tidied up and stored in the southernmost of these.  The other three will have shelving for specimens from elsewhere.  The existing entrance to the crypt at the south-west corner will now be an exit and there will be a new entrance created in the north-east corner where a number of other rooms and research facilities will be housed, as well as a lift.  The floor of the crypt will be lowered by about 30cm to remove traces of asbestos.  We were assured the crypt will have minimal impact on residents of the Square; very few researchers will be using it at any one time and there will be no noisy machinery.

Kevin and Rosie also updated us on progress with repairs to the rest of the church.  As we know, the south aisle is finished and work on the north aisle is well under way and should be complete by the end of January.  The really good news is that the turrets are being wrapped in a special stainless steel mesh supported by wooden battons.  This will support the turrets, prevent any bits of stone falling off, and most importantly will allow most of the ugly scaffolding on the West front to come down.  This is expected within a couple of weeks.  It is a "temporary" solution, likely to be in place for about 3 to 4 years, until funding for detailed restoration work is secured.

The Diocese also expect confirmation of funding to repair the internal ceiling of the nave.  This would start in March 2021 and last for about 4 months.  At that point, the whole of the internal space will be available for community use such as artists' studios and suchlike.  I suggested also painting the internal walls but there are no plans for this (yet!).

Kevin confirmed that the Diocese are adopting a more pragmatic, phased approach to the church restoration, with the emphasis in the short to medium term being on making the building stable, safe and sufficiently attractive to attract community use and generate a modest income.  The more ambitious long term vision presented at the St Andrews meeting two years ago, to remodel the interior and complete detailed restoration work, still stands, but will form part of a second phase.  Funding has not yet been obtained for this.  Talks with the YMCA have not progressed but the intention is still to find an "anchor tenant" and retain the fantastic uninterrupted central space promised by Ptolemy Dean at the meeting!

Hooray!  The scaffolding and shuttering has come down and for the first time in months we can see the south aisle of the church, extensively repaired and with a brand new roof.

Here's some photos showing the last stages of the restoration work.  Insulation is laid under the roof.  Then the internal beams are remoulded using a special template to shape the plaster into the required profile.

Insulation

Internal beam 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The valley gutter is lined with thick lead sheeting.  The gutter leads into hoppers which feed into brand new, high capacity cast iron drainpipes which were specially made for the church.  There are drainpipes at either end of the aisle, as before, plus two new ones in the middle.  Hopefully this will cope with all that rainfall and leaves - the main cause of the damage in the first place.

Gutter Lined With Lead

Downpipe6Downpipe3

 

The new slate tiles are laid on wooden battens above the rafters.  Each tile is broken in the traditional manner rather than cut.  And here's the result - a magnificent new roof!

New Tiles

Tiles EdgeTiles

 

The south aisle is now safe to enter and is already being used - for an exhibition based on the Tales From the Crypt research.  Here's a couple of interior shots.  The first shows panels from the exhibition, bathed in the light from the stained glass window.  The second is a close-up of the pristine new ceiling with the plaster beams painted to look like wood, just as Barry intended!

Interior 2 proc exhibition

 

 

 

 Interior 1 proc ceiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And finally, some exterior photos: the new south aisle, the south porch - look at the detailing on the stonework of the arch - and a view of the roof from my bedroom window!

IMG 1104 proc

IMG 1105 procIMG 110 proc

 

Mid July, and the restoration work is well under way.  Here's some more photos from Danny (and a couple from Kevin) illustrating what's going on - as always, hover the cursor over the images to read the caption.  

First, more examples of damage, not just to timbers, but also to stone and brick:

Rotted TimberGutter DamageDamaged StoneRotted Stone

 

And here below are photos of some of the new materials.  The stone is mostly Bath Stone sourced and prepared by Wells Cathedral Stonemasons in Somerset.  It has the advantage of being a "freestone" meaning it is easily worked and can be sawn or "squared up" in any direction.  This is the same Bath stone as originally used by Barry, as the following extract from the Holy Trinity Vestry minutes of March 1971 makes clear (from a Holy Trinity Chronology prepared for the Diocese by Rebecca Preston - well worth consulting, incidentally - see also here - a wonderful source of information about how the church was built):

"The church is a fairly characteristic example of a good Commissioners’ Perpendicular, simple but not mean. The body of the building is of stock brick and the window tracery, string courses and turrets are of Bath stone."

The timber is mostly Douglas Pine, as noted in an earlier post.  The image below shows a Box Joint, usually used for joining beams at right angles but in this case used to extend the length of a single beam.

New Stone CroppedWedge DetailMortice and Tenon

 

Although most of the Gault Bricks (aka "Suffolk Whites") are in fairly good condition, the mortar is not, and a great deal of repointing is necessary.  Fullers are using special lime mortar (slaked lime with specially selected sand), for several reasons:

  • This is what was used originally, so it looks good and blends in well (look at the quality in the detail photo on the right!)
  • It is flexible so less likely to crack as the building moves (past repairs have used cement mortar, with unfortunate results as you can see in the picture with Danny's hand earlier)
  • The mortar allows to bricks to "breathe" - in other words water does not get trapped within the brickwork, leading inevitably to damage.

Wall Under RepairLime Mortar Detail Reduced

 

Here's some of the results.  The photo on the left shows repaired rafters - most of this work is completed.  A new gutter has been fitted and will be lined with lead.  In the middle of the gutter is a new "Catch Pit" for collecting debris so that the gutter does not get blocked up again and rainwater flows freely out of hoppers at the ends into drainpipes.  The catch pit will be lined with stainless steel (who will go up there and clean away the debris though I wonder?).

New Catch Pit in Gutter

Repaired Rafters and Gutter

 

Finally, here's a photo of a new section of stone inserted into the space where damaged stone has been removed.  Interestingly, the stone is bonded into place using adhesive, then finished off with mortar.  And below that, a great interior shot showing a new Purlin between the lower and upper rafters.  The black structure is one of Barry's moulded plaster beams which can be see apparently supporting the ceiling from the interior of the church.  These actually have wood inside them with plaster artfully moulded around the wood.  As I understand it, Fullers are using steel beams to lie alongside the plaster beams to give extra support.  I've seen them being winched up to the roof and they certainly look extremely sturdy!New Stone in Place Detail

 

New Purlin and Plaster Beam

 

 

 

We've received the following email from Kevin Rogers at the Diocese:

 

Dear Amanda, Florence and Nick,

Just to bring you up to speed. I hope this finds you and the other residents well during these very strange times.  

You will have seen a bit of activity on site this week. Fullers, in line with government guidance, have returned to the building site. Fullers will revise their programme and we will tell you more as we look at options.

One interesting recent discovery was realising that the area at the west which allowed the lowering of coffins to the crypt level was still in place but capped with a concrete slab. Some of the west and south scaffolding is resting on this and we may need to reconfigure both scaffoldings in the coming weeks.

For the moment the exhibition is on hold – we will look at ways in which this can be done as lockdown eases or as an open-air display. We are also looking at other ways we can share the progress on the roof.

With all good wishes,

Kevin


Kevin Rogers |  Head of Parish Property Support


Sure enough, work on the church resumed in mid-May and Danny has sent some fascinating photos illustrating what is going on.  Here's a selection - more to come in later posts.  Hover the cursor over the images to see the captions.  We've also provided handy Wikipedia links to explain what may be unfamiliar architectural terms.

First, the main culprit for the damage.  Here's two photos of the Valley Gutter running the length of the aisle, which as Kevin has pointed out, was regularly blocked with leaves from the enormous London Planes overhanging the South aisle, causing water to leak into the church (these were cut back about a year ago, but they look pretty big again to me!).

Valley GutterExposed Timber Rafters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first repair task is to erect a temporary roof then remove the original slates - look at the size of them!  Some will be re-used but mostly they will be replaced with new ones of Welsh slate, mounted in special supports.

Slates

Scaffold Roof Protection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here's examples of the water damage, both to the end of the rafters and also to the Wall Plates which support them.  The wall plates are being completely replaced with massive timbers of Douglas Pine, chosen for its low moisture content to minimise warping in the years (centuries?) ahead.

Damaged Rafters

Water Damaged Wall Plates

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More damage, including a huge hole in the Lath and Plaster interior ceiling.  This will also be replaced, on a second set of rafters below the upper ones.

Wood DamageExisting Damage Lath and Plaster Ceiling

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All the damaged timbers are carefully labelled so they can be faithfully repaired or reproduced  ... and structural repairs can begin, in this case to the Purlin Ends  (Purlins are the longitudinal beams which support the middles of each rafter).

Purloin End Repair

Recording Timbers Once Removed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fascinating isn't it?  Watch this space!

 

In February 2020 the London Diocese announced it had received funding of getting on for half a million pounds from Historic England to carry out urgent repairs to the church, starting with the aisle roofs.  You can read the announcement on the Diocese website, here.  Of course this is far from the estimated £6 million for a complete restoration, but additional funding is being sought from other sources, in particular the National Lottery Fund, and the Diocese sound fairly confident that this will materialise.

Kevin Rogers, Head of London Diocese Parish Property Support, is quoted as saying:

"We are hugely encouraged by Historic England's financial and technical support for the initial phase of critical repair.  This is the first key step to bringing Sir Charles Barry's magnificent building back into public benefit."

Danny Burns on Roof CroppedShortly afterwards. residents of the Square were delighted to receive this letter from Danny Burns (pictured) Site Manager with Fullers Builders Ltd, announcing that Fullers had been awarded the contract to carry out the repairs.

 

Fullers LogoFullers Awards

 

Fullers is a specialist building company established in 1872 and managed by the same Fullers family throughout their 150 year history.  They "specialise in the conservation, repair and restoration of buildings of historic interest" and have a reputation for "sympathetic repairs and high quality building conservation and repair." - sounds like just what we need!  Check out their website, here - its very encouraging, with beautiful artwork (puts our website to shame!).  The pictures of past projects are particularly interesting.  Danny has worked on a couple of churches - St Michaels and All Angels, Blackheath, and especially St Michaels, Highgate - whose interiors look just like how Holy Trinity must have been in its heyday - see below.

 

St Michaels NaveSt Michaels Highgate1 2 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sure enough, scaffolding started going up at the end of February and within a few days the whole of the South aisle was enscased in sheeting, shuttering and a temporary roof.  Apparently the South aisle was on the point of collapse due to rain damage.  This will be tackled first, then the North aisle, then the West turrets, over an 18 week period according to Danny's letter (but see below!).  Residents were for a couple of days baffled to observe vast quantities of timber being delivered to the church but it transpired that this was nothing to do with the repairs - apparently the church is being used as a temporary depot for supplies to other churches in the area.

Then Coronavirus struck!!

The first sign was that painting of the shuttering (in an attractive shade of blue) stopped half way through.  Then all work ceased at the beginning of March.  Just before it did, we took up Danny's kind offer to contact him and he explained briefly what was going on and reiterated his willingness to keep us informed of progress if and when the work resumes (and he's been true to his word as you'll see in the next blog post!).  However, the need to maintain social distancing on the site means that the work will take longer than expected - Danny reckons two months for the South aisle alone,

The letter from Fullers stated "we will make every endeavour to avoid disrupting daily life in the Square".  Based on what we saw before lockdown, I (Nick) have been impressed with what I've seen of their work - as promised, there has been minimal disruption for residents and the site has remained very neat and tidy.  But feel free to add your own comments, questions or observations via "Add Comments" below. 

 

 

The planned restoration of Holy Trinity Church has been reported on extensively in this website.  Now it's actually started!  For the background to this long-anticipated development, please click on the links in the timeline below.

You will have seen the scaffolding rise on the south aisle of the church over the last few weeks. We understand that this work, funded by Historic England, is for emergency repairs to the South Aisle roof which was discovered to be at the point of collapse.  Further work to the North Aisle roof and the West Turrets is expected to follow.  The attached letter from the contractors, Fullers, has been circulated, estimating that the works will last for 18 weeks.  We understand that a formal announcement will soon be released by the Diocese about this work and the larger renovation project for which funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund is being sought. We understand that the Diocese are also hoping to host a residents update meeting about the proposed renovation of the church at some point in mid to late April (date TBD).

 

More details in subsequent articles - watch this space!