Church Fabric and Maintenance

Upcoming Work Required to Maintain the Fabric of the Church

  1. Large 17th Century Painting of the Nativity

    The large 17th century painting on the SW wall, which is below the new cross, needs restoration and a faculty is planned to be raised, based on a recent expert assessment with the diocese so the work can proceed.

  2. Altar Rail and Nave Flagstones

    The altar rail is being repaired to make it more stable and associated flag stones are being repaired and additional pointing work done.

  3. Choir/Gallery Stairs Re-Carpeting

    The stair carpeting to the galley is extremely worn and fraying. It is planned to replace the carpeting as soon as possible to improve safety.

  4. Church Audio System

    Recently a key part of the audio system failed rendering the whole system inoperable. The faulty unit has been sent for repair and a temporary replacement procured to get the system up and running. The root cause of the failure was thought to have been caused by a spike on the mains supply triggered by a light failure. The audio system has now been provided with a mains distribution panel with surge suppression to help prevent any future failures , similar in nature.

  5. Churchyard Mapping

    This project was extended to St Saviours which is now complete. The records have also been supplemented with burial records obtained from a local undertaker and will be added to the burials database online at during 2013.

  6. NW Corner Soakaway

    NW corner soak-away overflowing, also possible blockage of downpipe - The faculty was approved in second half of June 2012. The plan is to create a new soak-away behind and close to the bench dedicated to Peter Zweck. The work for this is planned to start after Easter.

  7. Replacement of Stolen Lead Piping

    Our building contractor is currently sourcing samples of suitable permanent replacement pipes which we can then submit to the diocese for approval. English Heritage is allowing more flexibility in the range of materials we can use for replacement piping which would be less attractive to thieves. The final solution is likely to be some modern material with a powder coating to look like the original.

Projects Completed Over the Last 15 Years

In 1998 the major work by far was the five-year electrical installation tests of both the lighting and emergency lighting systems. These tests are required to be undertaken by an approved NICEIC electrical engineer. These proved to be troublesome with remedial work and retesting required. We received assistance with many of the outside tasks from the Gloucestershire Probation Service. They removed the brick shed in the South East corner of the churchyard, re-pointed the path, painted the side gates and rails.

In 1999 the highlight of the year was repairs to the hinge at the bottom of the flagpole. All other work carried out was of a minor nature.

In 2000 we concentrated our efforts on the damp problems at the North East corner of the church, with the installation of a new drain to replace the existing soak-away to allow the surface water to drain away more effectively. We then tackled the damp that was causing the rapid deterioration of the effigy nearest to the kitchen. We removed the section of wall behind the effigy and installed a damp-proof membrane and redecorated the north ambulatory. Emergency repairs were required to the South East corner of the nave roof and three automatic winding units on the clock were replaced.

In 2001 the annual lightning conductor inspection identified an unsatisfactory earth bonding reading and following the lightning strike to York Minster a few years before the regulations regarding lightning conductors have become more stringent. We undertook the earth bonding work immediately and later we tested the connection at the top of the spire and installed an additional copper bonding strip down the entire length of the spire, 180 degrees to the existing one. This was the year that we first become concerned with the condition of the East window, which has a number of cracks to the larger pains and lets in rain water when the wind is in the wrong direction.

In 2002 our thoughts were directed towards the problems with the windows, in particular the East Window, the sound system, the spire and weathercock. We replaced the lead in the east and west windows of the north ambulatory, replaced broken diamond panes and carried out repairs to the broken pane in the west window over the porch. We improved and simplified the operation of the sound system by installing a remote control unit, a new amplifier and additional speakers.

In 2003 we completed the earth bonding work at the base of the tower and the installation of the additional copper bonding strip the weathercock was returned to the top of the spire. The weathercock was removed from the top of the spire in October 2003, it was repaired, regilded and returned to its original position in April 2004. Repairs to the stonework on the spire, the Bell Chamber Louvres, the seized weathercock bearing were also completed during April. Also the Coat of Arms that was showing signs of deterioration was restored.

In 2004 we worked on a number of issues that arose from legislation concerning the use of public buildings; churches being considered as public places. We converted the staging store at the back of the church into the parish office.

In 2005 we spent most of the year dealing with emergencies of one type or another. In August we noticed that a few tiles had lifted in the Entrance Lobby, on further inspection we found that a large area of tiles were being held in place by the inner doors. We employed a specialist tile company to lift and store any undamaged tiles for future use. After lengthy discussions it has been agreed with the Diocesan Advisory Committee that we should decide whether to reuse some of the tiles that have been recovered, or to make a fresh start, bearing in mind the difficulties of matching tile sizes. Strong winds during the Autumn resulted in the failure of a stone finial on the north side of the nave. This became detached and the upper portion of stone fell onto the roof of the north ambulatory, braking the slates on impact.

In 2006 further inspection revealed that several of the finials on the South side were decaying rapidly with severe salt deposits forming on their surface just above the battlements. The joints were also showing signs of decay and one finial was out of vertical and had rotated. Quotations, specification and schedule of works were obtained and the work was completed. A new glass fibre flagpole was erected to replace the broken flagpole. Cast Iron Drainpipes on the tower repaired and sections replaced as necessary.

In 2007 we spent most of the year dealing with questions from the Diocesan Advisory Committee and carrying out emergency work of one type or another. The main items of expenditure being finial and roof repairs, architectural fees, the new font bowl, stand and table, scaffolding and a replacement flagpole. We repaired the monuments that were in a dangerous state, solved some of the electrical installation problems, renovated the old font, installed a new kitchen, fitted a new toilet and carried out work to the sewerage system. We had been experiencing areas of surface water for many years on the south side of the church, often flowing across the paths during wet periods. We were advised that 2 of the existing the soakaways were silted up and blocked. We originally proposed to excavate two trenches from the existing rainwater gulley positions approximately 15 metres out from the main church wall and to install soak away tanks 900mm x 1200mm surrounded with clean stone and with access covers connected to the gulley with 110mm osma pipe. The trenches were to be dug using a small digger to a depth of approximately 1.8 metres. However we were informed that the greater the ground disturbance, the greater the archaeological implications with the increased level of uncertainty and cost. This solution has a degree of archaeological risk, if excavation of the soakaways, (which would have to be carried out carefully under archaeological supervision), struck graves or other archaeological deposits.

Further investigations of the churchyard led to a further possible option. There was an existing drain that runs round the east end of the church and terminates by the SE corner of the South aisle near to one of the blocked soakaways. This is at the end of a drainage run serving the WC in the vestry on the NE side of the church, but it was unclear why it should run around the chancel given that this is well beyond the connection to the WC. It may well have been designed to pick up the existing downpipes off the chancel anyway. This drain discharged via the Klargester unit serving the WC on the North side of the churchyard.

It was feasible to link into this drain so we linked the two blocked soakaways to it by means of a shallow pipe running parallel to and south of the path along the south wall of the church. This reduced the risk of archaeological disturbance considerably, as the ground disturbance will be limited to the excavation of a narrow shallow trench (which could be excavated by machine under archaeological supervision) parallel to the South wall from the two soakaways to this existing drain.

In 2008 we spent a significant sum on Monument Repairs, Scaffolding, Kitchen Refurbishment, Sound System Enhancement & radio microphone repairs, Roof and gutter repairs, Electrical Installation Repairs and Font Repairs and glass cover for table. The monument repairs were identified in a report that we commissioned on the condition of all of our wall mounted monuments. It was reported that some of them were in a dangerous condition and required urgent attention. The report identified five monuments within the church, where urgent work was needed to restore the safety of the structures. These were:

  • The John Savage Monument which is over the main entrance to the church. It had badly corroded fixings, which could have become detached.
  • It was reported that the Henny Harvey Monument in the South Gallery had parts of that could fall at any time.
  • The Sir William Romney Monument in the sanctuary had badly corroded fixings and needed to be entirely dismantled.
  • The Mary Deacon Monument and the Walter Pike Monument in the North Ambulatory both had badly corroded fixings.
    We undertook all of the remedial work on these urgent monuments and we are to produce a rolling programme of cleaning & retouching over the next few years. There are 41 wall mounted monuments in total all needing minor repairs.

    In 2009 we replaced the belfry floor, which really lifts this area of the Church. We work in close liaison with ASTAM GBC Consultancy and with the help of Wells Masonry we completed a number of test borings. We were of the general opinion that stone flags should replace the ceramic tiles that had failed. We had also intended to use this opportunity to repair damaged areas of the stone flooring throughout the church.

    If we were to carry out this work the porch lobby, the store cupboards and organ blower we would need to temporarily remove then re-fix after completion of the floor. Also the level of the floor at present is only suited for a thin covering. For stone to be laid the level needs reducing to suit the underlay hardcore, bedding and stone thickness itself. We were informed by ASTAM GBC Consultancy that this would be disruptive and costly because the concrete floor needed to be partly removed.

    ASTAM GBC Consultancy reported that 'In principle, this was achievable but there has to be acknowledgement that this would entail a comparatively complex exercise due to the conditions created in the works area. Inevitably this would be reflected in the cost'. They were also concerned for the condition of the stone vault below. This was reported as being in good condition at present but any vibration caused by the removal of the layers above would stress the masonry. They further reported that the full consequences of this cannot be fully predicted.

    After this report our original intentions to use stone flooring had to be reconsidered and we decided to re-tile the area using new tiles with the minimum disruption and expense.

    We also replaced the cushions in the box pews, so hopefully everyone should now be seated more comfortably.

    The East window is the first thing that visitors notice when they enter the church. However, it was in need of urgent repair and maintenance. Stained glass specialists advised us that the problems with the East Window were far worse than originally thought. They confirmed that some of the many pieces of the glass had originally been underfired and that in their experience there were no guaranteed solutions. To further complicate matters, it was found that the West window was also in dire need of repair. As a result, we embarked on a major fundraising exercise in June 2011.

    With the kind assistance from many local benefactors, and grants from various charities, we raised the necessary amount to effect the repairs which were completed during the second half of 2012, and the church wardens can now sleep a little easier in the knowledge that the East window is unlikely to fall in during communion!

    One interesting point raised by the rector early in his incumbency was that St Marys had no fixed cross on display in the church; we had crosses for the sanctuary party and choir processions, but these were only in place during services. So, in 2012, we erected a 9’ * 6’, adzed, in finished oak, polished and waxed, with polished stainless steel cross of nails at the East end of the church, directly above the painting of the nativity.

    During 2012, A catastrophic failure of the main control unit for all the church lighting necessitated an immediate replacement. The new control panel is now in the clergy vestry but there is a degree of flexibility that has been lost, specifically the ability to dim certain parts of the church. Updating of the lighting will now continue for some time as units fail or as improvement opportunities occur.

    The failure of the organ blower in 2012 and its removal for refurbishment offered an ideal opportunity to sound-proof its housing, which is located in the NE corner of the entrance chamber under the tower. The reduction in background noise has enhanced the general acoustics, especially at the back of the church.

    St Marys’ Churchyard is closed except for the internment of ashes. For some time we felt that the existing arrangements for the internment of ashes was not sustainable; the interment of individual caskets was usually covered with an assortment of memorial stone tablets which made the churchyard increasingly more difficult to maintain as the small memorial stones tablets were close together and hampered grass cutting. The space available was also not infinite and we needed to make other arrangements in good time. In 2012 we therefore decided and agreed to create a Garden of Remembrance where ashes are loosely interred. This is sustainable indefinitely. Memorials are recorded in a Book of Remembrance kept in a locked glass fronted cabinet situated within the church.