You may recall that when I last wrote, I reported that
we had been given the go-ahead to prepare a structured programme of work
over the next 5 years. Our first priority is to halt and correct the
subsidence and deterioration of the North aisle. Following on from this we
hope to address the front boundary wall and then the roof of the North
chapel, subject to there being nothing more pressing at that point.
The maintenance of a Grade ll* listed building can be
extremely frustrating. (See also Edmund's article which follows). Having
been authorised to proceed, we had to wait until July for a site visit by
the Historic Churches Committee (the planning authority). It granted a
"Determination" (agreement in principle) which should progress
to a Faculty (planning permission in lay terms) BUT subject to a proviso
that the work is monitored by a full Archaeological watching brief.
Co-ordinating this into our programme of work has caused further delay,
but we are reasonably confident that we shall be able to go out to tender
in the next month or two, and start work this year.
While the work is underway we shall pursue our
submission for financial support from North Wiltshire District Council to
renew the dangerous front boundary wall and protect the footpath.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view) the
District budget has already invested considerable money into the
refurbishment of the High Street. Funds for our project are not available
The repair of the North chapel roof will be next on our
agenda. The funds required to achieve its renewal will need to be sourced
from grants and local enterprise i.e. fundraising. It is likely to be a
major undertaking involving removal of the organ in order to access the
Moving on to less costly enterprises, we obtained a
grant of £500 from The Waylands Trust to carry out repairs in the belfry
and reinstate the chimes on the church clock. The latter has proved to be
too expensive. The striking mechanism requires a new bell, as the Call
Bell in the tower is too old (1733) and fragile to sustain hourly
striking. We are limiting the clock refurbishment to the installation of a
winding device at ground level. This will save us from having to climb the
ladder in the tower each week in order to wind the clock!
Requiring a more substantial injection of cash is the
proposal to fit the church with radiant heaters. Parishioners and visitors
will be delighted to learn that we intend to press our case for a greater
source of warmth during the cold winter months than the space heaters
under the pew seats.
With all these plans, you may be tempted to ask how the
coffers stand. So far this year we have raised £3,796.81 which brings our
total fundraising to a sum in excess of £16,000. We have spent £5,516.42
on improvements and maintenance (cushioning to the kneelers and renewal of
guttering and downpipes). There remains £10,854.16. It is a healthy sum
and a credit to the "Friends" hard work, Undoubtedly we shall
I hope that you now have a fair idea of the programme
that you are supporting. We need to keep the fundraising bandwagon rolling
and also to extend our patronage beyond the purses of parish and
"Friends". If you have any ideas, they would be most welcome.
Although it is long since past, our Open Day on 27 May
was well attended, and Edmund's guided tour of the church much appreciated
by a keen audience. We continued to open up the church on alternate
Saturday mornings throughout the summer.
Finally and sadly, we have had to bid farewell to our
Chairman, Tim Cheesman, who is retiring to the warmth of the Gulf Stream
in South Devon. No more damp churches! Tim has played a key role in the
Friend's enterprise not only as Chairman, but as handyman and fundraiser.
Thank you, Tim. I have been invited to replace Tim, and shall do my best
to emulate his performance - if only enthusiasm were enough!
HISTORICAL NOTES from
RESTORATION WORK - Problems and progress
St Mary's church is a much loved building. The very fact
of its survival in its present form for some 600 years, and as a place of
worship for nearly 1000 years is a testament to the care that generation
upon generation have taken in its upkeep. For the vast majority of that
period, it was very much up to the local community, no doubt with the
support of benefactors both public and anonymous, to develop, alter,
maintain and improve upon the church that previous generations had left to
them. Today, the care of old buildings is instead very much a public
concern. This finds expression in the wide variety of interest groups, both
public and private that need to be consulted by anyone seeking to do any
substantial work on their building.
Take, for example, the work that is being planned
affecting the boundary wall of the churchyard that fronts on to Cricklade
High Street. It is a Listed Building in its own right. It fronts on to a
public highway. It lies across the line of the Anglo-Saxon defensive wall.
It lies in a Conservation Area. It is owned by the Anglican Diocese, and
leased, along with the rest of the church, to the Catholic Diocese.
Altogether this complex web of ownership and interests probably makes the
modest nineteenth century limestone wall one of the most complicated walls
in the whole of Cricklade!
At a recent site meeting that I attended on behalf of the
Friends there were a total of fifteen professionals available to give advice
and comment on the nature and extent of the work needed. They represented
the Historic Churches Committee, the North Wiltshire District Council, the
County Council, the Catholic Diocese, the Victorian Society, and the Society
for the Preservation of Ancient Buildings. Other organisations had sent
Sometimes it can seem frustrating to have so many
interests involved in work on the church. Back in 1862 when the Reverend
Allan planned a thorough restoration of the church, including opening up the
roof, re-building some parts of the walls, building the boundary wall, and
completely re-ordering the interior, he was able to complete the work in
little more than a year! Even then, however, the local paper reported regret
that a "too-narrow red-tapism" had prevented him from getting
grants from a local charity .
However, the number of people that take the time and
trouble to attend such a meeting, and to involve themselves and their
organisations in the planning process should perhaps best be seen as a
demonstration of the modern commitment to historic buildings. We take a bit
more time, and perhaps a bit more care than our Victorian forebears. Perhaps
that means that we will be able to pass on St Mary's to future generations
Edmund Lee is Adviser on Conservation to "The
Friends of St Mary's "
FOR SALE Notelets depicting a southern aspect of
St Mary's from gates to porch. Packets of 10, with envelopes, £2.00.
Available at St Mary's or via Committee members.
ALTAR FRONTAL Work on the altar frontal, delayed
whilst the future of the church was in the balance, is due to start in
October. Needlewomen volunteers would be appreciated. If you can spare a
morning every fortnight (probably Tuesday) you would be most welcome. Please
contact Bernadette 01285 861586.
COFFEE MORNING We plan to hold a coffee morning,
with bring and buy, in Cricklade towards the end of October or early
November. Details are not yet finalised, but we hope .that we can count upon
the support of all our "Friends " in the locality. Further