November 19, 2019

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 has become 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 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.

After preliminary drilling and other investigative works, the full repair and conservation project got under way in September 2018, scheduled to last at least a year and involving complete re-grouting and repointing, stonework repairs, a new tower roof and improved drainage. It is being 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, Allchurches Trust and the H.B. Allen Trust, plus several smaller but much appreciated grants from other bodies, and this support has enabled us to plan with confidence for the complete realisation of the project.

Brompton Regis Church Tower Restoration Update, October 2019

Behind the scaffolding and protective cladding, work has been progressing invisibly but steadily over the last year on the repair and conservation of the tower. Initial drilling of multiple holes enabled the flushing out from the wall cavities of the soggy remnants of 13th century filler materials, and then more than 9 tons of new grout was injected to fill the voids. The next stage was the removal of the old mortar, and Carrek then moved on to external re-pointing and stonework repairs. After a pause in early summer to allow for further drying-out, that phase was completed in September.

The plaster has also been removed from the interior walls of the tower, exposing the ancient stone beneath. That turned out not to be of sufficient quality to be left exposed, so re-plastering is now under way and should be finished in November. Lengthy drying time between coats is needed for the traditional lime-based materials being used.

The external scaffolding is now being removed, enabling the final phase of the work to start. This will be the installation of a new drainage system at the external base of the tower. Everything should be done and dusted by Christmas.

The fundraising campaign has been very successful, with the result that we are having 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 for a rural church, this is very good news for the future upkeep of the building.

The following organisations have given financial support to the project:
The National Lottery Heritage 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                                                               Garfield Weston 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 Neves and Russell Brett which raised £375.

Bill Rees                 PCC Treasurer        Tel: 01398 371128      Email: whrees@btinternet.com
Malcolm Miller      Churchwarden       Tel: 01398 371329      Email: osbornefarm@btopenworld.com