St Michael's Church Restoration Group

The purpose of the group is to instigate a plan of work, raise funds and carry out such work to bring the St Michael’s Church building and its churchyard to an acceptable standard for the benefit of worshippers, the general community and visitors alike. The implementation of this purpose is managed through a locally constituted committee which meets on a regular basis to ensure that progress is monitored and decisions made and recorded in a professional manner. It is planned the final outcome of the project will be for the local community to have a church, fit for purpose that encourages worship and enhances the historical and environmental importance of the site for visitors. 

Committee
John Livermore (Secretary and Acting Chairperson)
Nicky Lee (Treasurer) 
Andrew Reid
Bernard Bradshaw
Alan Parker
Alan Carter
Alan Hillard

The Committee has been working on the project for several years and a number of tasks have already been completed including the restoration of the historically significant south porch but we are now entering the important and more difficult phases of replacing the main roof and carrying out the reordering of the church interior. A brief summary of progress on these and tasks already completed can be found below:

Church Interior
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A preliminary faculty (church authorisation) was submitted to the church authorities in September 2015 with plans to carry out a comprehensive reordering of the interior in order to make it a place of practical usefulness, with improved comfort, and with fitting and decoration to make it relevant for the present day and well into the future. These plans include but not limited to the following aspects:

  • a fully accessible WC in the North West corner of the nave connected to an existing sewer.
  • a catering point in the South West corner of the nave with base units, worktop and sink.
  • removal of the rear banks of pews and relocation of the font to free up space.
  • removal and replacement of all other pews for more comfortable pews/chairs which will be arranged semi-permanently to allow more flexibility in the use of space.
  • creation of a single floor level throughout the nave at the level of the existing central aisle.
  • enhanced heating and lighting
  • built-in storage in oak at low level on the north side of the nave e.g for folding tables and chairs.
  • a revised entrance area with glazed inner door
  • realignment and alterations to the vestry and chancel areas.
  • redecoration of all wall surfaces with paint materials which will permit the stone construction to breathe. 

Detailed discussions are continuing with our architects and draft final specifications are in place for final agreement before submitting the full and final faculty. The target date for this submission is early autumn 2017 and it is hoped work could commence later in 2018, subject to approvals and funding.

South Porch
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The restoration work for this remaining 15th century part of the church was completed in 2013 and is now used as the building’s principal entrance. For a long time, the porch had been locked and out of use owing to the danger posed by loose horizontal ribs in the ceiling structure. Following an arduous approval process with the Diocesan authorities, permission was finally granted for a complete overhaul, including improvements to the stonework, comprehensive timber replacement and repair, and replacement of the roof tiles with Welsh slate. The work was carried out by Brownstone Construction and was paid for from existing funds.

Roof
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Although repair-only work was considered it was thought it would make more long term economic sense to replace the current precast concrete tiles with slate which would be more sympathetic to the style of this historic building. The funding for this work is in place and is made up of grants from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund and the Headley Trust with the balance being covered by existing church funds.
After a long wait the green light was received from Natural Resources Wales with the issue of a licence for specified bat protection measures which means work can proceed with a new roof for the church as soon as the necessary contracts are in place. The church diocesan authorities have already given their blessing and work commenced in April 2017 under draft contract arrangements with the erection of scaffolding and installation of temporary bat access boxes. The work is being carried out by Taliesin Construction and we are being advised by ecologist, Denis Jackson to ensure we are abiding by the terms of our bat licence. 

Progress
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Roof stripping and the installation of plastic protective sheeting was completed in May and following a comprehensive inspection refurbishment/replacement of the roof timbers is nearing completion as at mid July. The new Welsh roof slates are being delivered at this time and the specialised tiling work is about to commence.  Subject to the vagaries of the British weather, it is hoped the overall roofing work will be completed by the end of August 2017.

Replacement West Door
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The outer double doors at the west end of the church were rotting at the base and in a general poor condition. As a consequence It was decided to replace them on a like-for-like basis with a completely new pair using the same design and furniture, utilising dry oak with arched tongued and grooved rebated construction. Existing door ironwork was removed, refurbished and refitted. The door surrounds and internal woodwork above the doors as necessary were removed and refitted and a protective coating applied to the finished installation. The work was completed in 2014.

South Porch - The restoration work for this remaining 15th century part of the church was completed in 2013 and is now used as the building’s principal entrance. For a long time, the porch had been locked and out of use owing to the danger posed by loose horizontal ribs in the ceiling structure. Following an arduous approval process with the Diocesan authorities, permission was finally granted for a complete overhaul, including improvements to the stonework, comprehensive timber replacement and repair, and replacement of the roof tiles with Welsh slate. The work was carried out by Brownstone Construction and was paid for from existing funds.

Lychgate Restoration
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The Lychgate was installed some 40 years ago and due to a lack of maintenance over the years the side structures had become infested with woodworm and beetle. As a consequence an urgent plan of restoration was undertaken and the existing timbers were replaced with dry oak and treated with preservatives. This work was completed at the end of 2011 and we can now be assured of having a Lychgate that will last for many years.

This project has been supported by the Sustainable Development Fund, a Defra initiative in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), the Welsh Church Act Fund and the TCC.

Boundary Wall
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The drystone wall forming a boundary between the Parva B & B and the churchyard was in a poor state and inherently unsafe. Long term tree growth and ivy infestation had destroyed the fabric of the wall. As a consequence urgent work was commissioned to place the wall in a safe condition and to make the area aesthically pleasing.
This work has been supported by a grant from the Diocese of Monmouth, Churches and Pastoral Committee

Interpretation Board
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This was designed by Andrew Reid and has now been installed by the path along the side of the church. It gives further information on the church and its historical context for both villagers and visitors.

This project has also been supported by the Sustainable Development Fund, a Defra initiative in the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Public Footpath Ramp
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Because the area surrounding the gate on the public footpath at the field end of the churchyard was in danger of flooding the Committee felt it was sensible to install a ramp to bring the level of the path above anticipated levels of flood water. This work was carried out earlier in 2012. The cost was funded from existing monies in the church restoration account.

Other items purchased in 2012 included a High Security Storage Shed for much needed additional storage space and a Digital Organ. The latter item was supported by a grant from the Welsh Church Act Fund.

Work continues on the general maintenance of the church and its churchyard.

 The Committee is very appreciative of local support and hope this continues so eventually we are able to fully preserve this very special historical and religious site. Any help with the project from residents will always be welcome, particularly those who have any expertise concerning such matters as grant applications and fund raising ideas but also those who can spare an hour or two in helping around the church and the churchyard. In the meantime if any readers require further information concerning the project please contact Reverend Nora Hill (01291 626784) or John Livermore (01291 689461). 
Contact
John Livermore
Telephone 01291 689461
email
baronjohn@live.co.uk