The Immediate Past 2015 to 2019
After the last 5 year inspection in 2015 there were three areas requiring attention within two years. These were: (i) the roof, (ii) the boiler chimney, (iii) various parts of the stonework, particularly round the Apse. Early in 2016 the PCC applied to the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund for a grant and in June 2016 it was awarded a grant of £99,500.
In August 2016 The Friends (Friends of St Johns, Northington) launched an appeal to raise sufficient money to complete all the work requiring urgent attention. Every household in the local community was given a copy of the updated and illustrated Visitors’ Guide to emphasise the importance of the building. The generosity of the response reflects great credit on the local community. In November 2016 the PCC applied to the Trustees of the Garfield Weston Foundation for a grant towards the cost of replacing the boiler chimney and repairing stonework, particularly in the area of the Apse. Consequently, in February 2017 the PCC was informed that it had been awarded a grant of £10,000.
Our architect, Fiona Hudd, from Seymour & Bainbridge supervised the whole process from tendering through to re-opening the church. St. John’s was completely re-roofed by TM Roofing, including the provision of a bespoke ridge tile. Because a small number of Bats had been seen, when a survey was conducted, some special Bat entry tiles had to be incorporated in the new roof. Thanks to the response to the appeal and the grant from Garfield Weston the PCC was able to arrange for Colin Avery (Stonemasons) to remove the brick boiler chimney and replace it with a stone chimney, built, as far as possible, to the original design. Importantly re-roofing, the replacement of the boiler chimney and the repairs to the Apse stonework, was all done from the same scaffolding. On completion of all this work the interior of the Church, including the space between the inner and outer roofs, was professionally cleaned by Richfords, Fire and Flood.
The Covid Projects
Replacing the Lighting and associated Rewiring
It became obvious in the last 5 years that the church was suffering from electrical artefacts that were aging and becoming increasingly decrepit and as a result were furthering the risk to the fabric of the church. The lighting consisted of a few high voltage aluminium lights placed near the high ceiling of the church. When one bulb ceased to function it had a marked effect upon the visibility in the relevant part of the church. The wiring used for the lighting was of a type that is no longer supported by the industry. The insulation around the wire was breaking down, in addition the lights, being of metal construction, were getting very hot and, according to the advice from our electricians, a risk to the integrity of the church. In other words a fire risk. The lighting situation was becoming increasingly expensive as well as inefficient. It was also suspected that the risk was increasing. This was emphatically confirmed by the electrical inspection, as part of the 2020 Quinquennial, in which the system was graded as unsatisfactory.
It was decided by the PCC that a company was needed to review the situation and make proposals. Accordingly CES was contracted. It was quickly realised that a new scheme would not only deal with the inefficiency of lighting but also lessen the risk considerably as well as be ecologically friendly. After considerable consultation between the PCC and CES a specification was produced that enhanced the whole church whilst ensuring good visibility throughout. The proposed scheme would utilise LED technology and as such should need little or no replacement of bulbs, which would lessen the current high expenditure on church maintenance. Consequently, the specification was put out to tender and CES provided the best response and subsequently were contracted.
CES completed the work in the period Oct/Nov 2020, whilst the church was closed. All the old cable and lights were removed and an armoured cable was used to link and power all the new LED lights. The system now has a default ‘visitor’ setting as well as 8 more options. The outside lights were also replaced as well as extra lights provided in the darker corners of the lower levels and tower.
Heating Fuel Pipe
It was realised that the fuel pipe from the tank to the boiler room would prevent further graves being dug, therefore it was agreed to reposition the underground heating oil fuel line. A faculty was agreed and the work carried out during 2020.
The Organ is overdue a 25 year clean and overhaul, which will involve, amongst other things, taking out all the pipes. In other words it is a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to make changes. Sadly in the 1990s, when the last such opportunity arose, the changes were not wholly successful so we must try to do better on this occasion. It is worth noting that we have been blessed with a fine instrument so it is incumbent on us to make the best of this opportunity.
At the PCC meeting on 19th November 2018 the PCC approved the suggestion that a small group, (Michael Brodrick, Jane Bryant, Peter Lamb and Peter Campbell), should agree a specification for work on the organ, arrange for quotes and then apply for a Faculty and make grant applications, if necessary.
A specification was agreed and a Faculty awarded after many months of discussion and numerous visits by renowned organists. The tender was issued in December 2020 to 9 companies listed by the Institute of Organ Builders. The contract was won by JW Walker who suggested that the organ work would best be described as a “restorative overhaul”. The fundraising stage is currently underway with the Friends of St John’s having provided £30k as an initial donation.
This project will be very costly following closely on the heels of the expensive church lighting/rewiring project so another round of fund raising will be necessary.
The wall around the current graveyard is grade 2 listed in its own right. It is suffering from age related wear and tear such that it is near to collapse on the West side. This is a project that will require much effort to raise specific funds to resolve.
New Name Board
The addition of a new name board will be necessary as the ‘Wardens’ portion of the current board (on the North Wall) is near to being full. The PCC have passed a resolution to move the existing board to above the South door (the main church door), and replace it with a like board.