The grant comes from the Culture Recovery Fund and is specified to be used for the re-roofing of the sanctuary, both side chapels and the old sacristy. The contribution that St Mary’s parish must raise towards the repairs is £37,150.
The Grade II* listed building dates from 1850 and was designed by the acclaimed Catholic architect, JJ Scoles. The roof has deteriorated, and water has seriously damaged a mural painted by Archibald Jarvis in 1921.
The building has not just broken and missing tiles, but also displaced beams, cracks in the walls and internal damage due to leaks. Some of the tiles which have come off are above the organ loft, and water has been coming in, threatening the valuable organ.
The original slate tiles over the nave, as well as over the chancel and side chapels at the western end, were replaced by concrete tiles in the 1960s. The excessive weight of these has displaced beams supporting the roof.
The current repairs, being made in partnership with Caroe Architecture, are dealing with the eastern end of the building. To protect all the beams of the church, the concrete tiles across the whole roof would need to be replaced with slate. A 2019 report from Nicholas Warnes architects put the cost of a complete repair at £1,500,000.
“The past couple of years we’ve been doing concerts, race nights and raffles,” said Brian Lafferty, chair of the finance committee at St Mary’s. “The parish are very committed and enthusiastic. We had everything planned for last year, and then along came Covid.”
The parish has launched a “buy a candle and save our church” appeal. You can support this appeal here
Pictured above are some of the repairs at St Mary’s and (below) some of the damaged beams