Major Projects 2016 onwards

At St Mary’s we do have a vision for a future where our church is central and relevant to modern village life, where we attract newcomers and are welcoming to all who visit , where we further develop our use of technology within the church to enhance the experience of our congregation and our visitors.  We recognise the need for change in order to progress our mission and are keen to be able to start on exciting new projects.

But, before we can do that, we have a number of large and necessary maintenance projects that urgently need our attention.
The roof to the chancel & organ chamber – completed Dec-2016
The stonework on and around the tower and the clock –  completed Dec-2017
The exterior wall and roof of the vestry –
completed June 2022
Renovation of the historic organ

As with any large project, the costs are considerable.  Our congregation already contribute to the full, in order just to meet the costs of running the building and the ministry share which we pay to the Diocese.  So part of the process for any new project must be applications for grants and other outside sources of funding.  Although we have several large projects, they are very different and, hopefully, will attract different sources of funding.

This page was created in May 2016 and is being updated regularly as the projects progress.  We would appreciate your prayers as we work on these projects. Our Restoration Appeal was launched on September 10th 2016 and is intended to cover all of these projects.  For updates on the Appeal and on the different ways that you can give, there is a separate webpage here.

THE CHANCEL ROOF (and surrounding area) – COMPLETED DEC-2016
The church building is inspected by the Church Architect every five years and he advises on works that are needed in his Quinquennial report.  At St Mary’s the last inspection took place in November 2014.  The chancel roof, which we know has been prone to occasional leaks, and the north transept (organ chamber) roof are both mentioned in the 2009 and 2014 quinquennial reports as needing repair.  The chancel roof itself is the responsibility of the church commissioners, so we did not have to raise funds for that repair.  However, the chancel roof is attached to the north transept roof (over the organ chamber) so it was sensible to have both roofs repaired at the same time.
Our first grant application (Feb-2016) to LPOW Roof Grants was not successful.
We had permission from the Diocese (List B Authorisation) to complete this work and had a bat survey done.   The roofwork had to be completed in the period September– March to avoid disturbing any bats as far as possible. A grant of £1,000 towards this project was received from All Churches Trust (September 2016).

Monday 19th September 2016 – the scaffolding started to go up
Monday 17th October 2016 – work on the roof started in earnest with lead stripping
chancel roof  img_1075    img_1091

Tuesday 1st November 2016 – after recasting of some lead and repairs to some timbers, work started on installation of the new roof. Here are a few unusual views of/from the chancel roof

Monday 28th November 2016 – the lead work is complete and the stonemasons are at work making some repairs and repointing.
Monday 5th December 2016 – The roof is fixed, the covers are off and the scaffolding has started to come down. Now that our chancel is weather-proof, on we can move to planning and fund-raising for the next big project. Thanks to all who have supported us so far with sponsorship, events, grants, donations….
roof.jpg      img_1171  roof-completed

STONEWORK (especially in high areas) – COMPLETED DECEMBER 2017
An urgent item highlighted in the Architect’s 2014 Quinquennial report was to check and repoint the clerestory parapet (shown below).
clerestory parapet               tower-parapet
Although not a huge job in itself, it seemed sensible to group this urgent item with other stonework requiring attention.  Such as :- rebed / repoint spire base; decorate clerestory rainwater goods; Tower parapet pointing ; lower level selective repointing.  Much of the area needing attention is not easily accessible and would require scaffolding or similar.
Sub –Project :  THE CLOCK   Whilst there is scaffolding in place around the tower, it seemed sensible to carry out repairs to the external parts of the clock .
 In the last week of July-2017 we were awarded a grant of £40,000 (the maximum available) from the Amey Community Fund. This money supplements the ongoing fund-raising successes of the restoration appeal and allows us to start the essential maintenance work on the tower and repairs to the clock.
 We have a List B permission from the Diocese in place to cover this work which started in August 2017.  The scaffolding has been extensive and the clock had to be taken away for repairs.  The work was finished by Christmas 2017.


In 2016 the vestry roof was a temporary one and the exterior vestry wall was in need of repair.  In addition, the east wall of the Living Stones Room was a wooden structure and the boundary with Buckden Towers a (temporary) wooden fence instead of the original iron railings.

Although technically less urgent than the projects above,  we were aware that this area was unsightly and in need of attention.  This project was mentioned in the Quinquennial report of 2014 for action within 5 years but was delayed due to both its complexity and the need to involve outside agencies such as English Heritage. The various permissions were obtained in 2020 (despite COVID-19 and lockdown) and the project was completed in June 2022.  See the before and after pictures below. 




Our organ is a Nicholson and Lord, 3 manual and pedal board, tracker action instrument which is not only rare but is over 100 years old.

For some years now, the organ has been having problems which cannot be rectified without a complete overhaul and re-built. 
organ playing

We have already obtained one cost-estimate for this work which is in the region of £85,000. It has been proving quite difficult to get a second or third cost estimate.  

At the same time, we are looking at potential sources of funding for this project and plan to submit a faculty application for permission to do the work.   The organ is an important part of our history at St Mary’s and, as such, will hopefully be able to attract specific grants and other funding on the basis of both heritage and music.