Church Tower Restoration Project
Brompton Regis Church wins Heritage Lottery funding to tackle tower problems
The medieval tower of Brompton Regis church will be 800 years old in 2020, and has been absorbing water through the centuries. The effects inside the church have become acute in recent years, with green mould and peeling plaster on the walls, and puddles on the floor in very wet periods. The damp atmosphere is a threat to the church’s historically important organ, and the building has been placed on the At Risk register by Historic England.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has now come into partnership with the Parochial Church Council to address the problem decisively. The PCC is committing some legacy money to the project and is raising further funds, but the major part of the cost is being borne by the HLF. Preliminary drilling and other investigative works have been completed, and the full repair and conservation project will get under way in July 2018. It will last about a year and will involve complete re-grouting and repointing, stonework repairs, a new tower roof and improved drainage. It will be guided by Alan Smith of Smith Gamblin, a Bridgwater-based architectural company, and carried out by Carrek Ltd, a Bristol-based company specialising in historic buildings.
Churchwarden Malcolm Miller said: “The parish is hugely appreciative of the HLF’s commitment to conserving this important part of its heritage for present and future generations”.
The church has also received substantial grants from the National Churches Trust, Somerset Churches Trust and Allchurches Trust, plus several smaller but much appreciated grants from other bodies, and this support will enable the complete realisation of the project
Brompton Regis Church Tower Restoration Update
With the tower scaffolded and wrapped in cladding everyone knows that something is going on, but it isn’t possible to see what’s happening. Initial drilling of multiple holes enabled the flushing out from the wall cavities of the soggy remnants of 13th century filler materials, and now new grout is being injected in large quantities to fill the voids. That is happening twice a week over a six week period, and Carrek are very pleased with the way it’s going. They have thus been able to overlap into a start on the next phase, which is the removal of the old mortar prior to re-pointing and stonework repairs. Following that they will move inside to remove the plaster from the interior of the tower, taking the walls back to stone, and we’re waiting with interest to see what that looks like before deciding whether to replaster.
The external cladding will remain in place for some months (at least until May) for the new materials to settle and dry. When the scaffolding is finally removed, the final phase of the work will be the installation of a new drainage system at the external base of the tower.
The fundraising campaign has been very successful, with the result that we will have to commit less money from our reserves (the Davey family bequest) than we first envisaged. Given the hand-to-mouth precariousness of the annual operating budget, this is very good news for the future upkeep of the church building.
The following organisations have given financial support to the project:
The Heritage Lottery Fund The H.B.Allen Trust
Allchurches Trust Emmanuel College, Cambridge
National Churches Trust The Philip Laity Stoate Foundation
Somerset Churches Trust An anonymous trust
The Cave Foundation
We are also most grateful for the funds raised through private donations and through generous contributions made at local events, most recently the cream tea hosted by Peter and Babs Page which brought in £270, and the pub quiz organised by Eddie and Russell which raised £375.