Four more photographs have been added to the archive, showing the protective roof in place. Photos are courtesy of D Holdstock.
In addition to the improved design, we have also now incorporated photo galleries into the site.
We would welcome any photographs of the Church Pre-fire, during The Fire and of the Restoration Effort.
All photographs will be credited to the photographer, but will be available in the public domain so their copyright can not be assured. If you are happy for your photographs to be used, please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The first news is that this coming week the church will be covered by a plastic protective cover, surrounding the scaffolding frame. A clever roof will be put on as well which will allow future contractors to remove sections when they need to crane materials inside.
This will complete the first stage of making the building safe, and will be the last time the church will be seen until the new restoration and rebuilding is complete.
The second piece of news is that the Bishop of Warwick has asked me to stay on to help oversee this reconstruction work – which is a great relief ! He is currently working out the details of my new licence, but at least we know that we shan’t have to move again until this work is complete.
As our attention moves into the next stage of work, we have been able to appoint an architect from a firm in London who are specialists in restoring and re-ordering churches. We are very excited, as their track record is stunningly good – they are currently completing the £36m restoration of St Martins in the Fields (the church overlooking Trafalgar Sq), and have worked on some other significant national treasures, including the Tower of London, Wells cathedral, and Leeds Castle, to name but a few. So we shall be in excellent hands !
As a thorough survey begins on the walls and tower, we shall soon discover how much of the stonework has been irreparably damaged and will need to be replaced. This will be the next stage of the work, and when contractors will return to the site. This work will need the approval of the Diocesan authorities and English Heritage, who are due to visit the church in July.
We are also working through details of various elements of the church fabric that have been lost so that the Insurance Company can cover these fairly. We have discovered that the East window was not a Kempe window (Kempe was a prolific and high quality stained glass window designer in the 19th century). We had been led to believe that we had one of his works, but sadly this is not the case. However, the artist who made our Millennium window is on the case, and has come up with some suggestions of other makers.
Once the current contractors have left the site, we will hopefully be able to open the churchyard again for visitors, but on a supervised basis only. We are having some temporary steps put in from the path so that no-one slips on the grass, and on our next bulletin, I will publish times when someone will be there to open the churchyard to any visitors. We will also be able to open the cremation area at the same time. This will be a great relief to many, though there will still be some inaccessible graves within the fencing. These are fully protected underneath the scaffolding.
Thank you once again for your understanding and support. As we move into a more exciting and creative phase of work, we give great thanks to God that everyone working on the Church has been kept safe, and has provided us with such a sensitive and careful service.
We are delighted to announce that the Piano Recital on the 31st May raised £178, the Barford Concert raised £650, and the garage sale by John Taylors Funeral Services raised £456.
We would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who was involved and supported the event.
Pam Coop is selling plants, the proceeds of which will go towards the Restoration fund.
If you would like to purchase any plants please call her on 01926 427636, or visit her at 78 Southam Road, Radford Semele.
If Pam has any plants left she will bring them to the Radford Rendezvous, which starts at 10:30am, on June 11th at the community hall.
The first phase of the work at the church is drawing to an end. The bells have been removed and all the debris within the building has now been cleared, sorted, and the few bits with any future use have been stored. The final process in the phase is the external scaffolding of the entire building with a covering roof, and protective sides. We shall be left with what probably looks like a cocoon, which will come off at the end of the project, hopefully like a butterfly emerging! This first phase has gone extremely well, and the contractors have been superb.
However, as part of this work, we discovered evidence which suggests that the fire might not have been caused accidentally. On the day after the fire, when it was safe to go into the fenced compound, I discovered that one of the cremation plot stones was missing. Well about 10 days ago, it was discovered underneath one of the main windows inside the church, underneath the debris. This, sadly, means that it went through the window before the fire started, and certainly on the night of the fire as people were in church the afternoon before. The police are still investigating, but I am afraid that it is now fairly likely that the fire will have been started deliberately.
I am sure this will be a major blow to many of us, and we may have all kinds of questions and feelings surrounding something so wrong as this. We have set up a small Pastoral Prayer Team of people from church who you can talk to, or pray with, if you feel you need to. They will be at the Radford Rendezvous coffee mornings, and we have arranged a time with our friends at the Baptist church when their hall will be open to meet and pray – the first Thursday of every month from 7.30 -8.30pm, starting on June 5th.
Members of the team are also available to visit you at home, and if you would like to meet one of them, do call Helen Robertson or Anne Wilson and they will make the arrangements. Please do use this team to help with the anger and sadness that we will be feeling at this time.
I would also like to say a huge thank you to those who have given so generously to the Restoration fund. We have now raised just over £10,000 !
I know some of you have been waiting to find out how much we will need to restore the church before making your gift. At the moment we do not know how much this will be as the cost of repair work to the stone walls and the design and building of the new interior have not been assessed yet. Once the building is safe, there will be a thorough survey which will begin to give us some indication of the final state of the walls (stone is still fracturing and falling off!). The Church is insured, but nearly 10% of the cover has already been spent in this first phase of work. It looks likely that we shall need to raise some more, and at that time, we shall be setting up a small fund-raising group who will oversee some events and activities that we can all be part of. So please think of creative ideas … I am sure they will be very useful !
Alan Jones is also going to make a DVD diary of the event and rebuild, so if you have any pictures or video footage, please contact him on 334443.
Thank you again for your support and prayers – we are getting there, slowly but surely!
There are two upcoming fund raising events.
The first is a Piano Recital by Elizabeth Tebby on Saturday May 31st at 8.00pm at the Unitarian Chapel, Warwick.
Tickets on sale at the door will be in aid of the St Nicholas Church Restoration Fund. For further details please contatct Elizabeth Tebby on 01926 311099 .
The second fund raising event is on Thursday 29th May at 7.45 p.m. It is a concert at St Peter’s Church, Barford, in aid of the St. Nicholas Church Restoration Fund. It will be music by Corelli, Bach & Handel, performed by James Hewitt (violin), Mark Dupere (cello), both from the Royal Conservatoire, The Haguen and Chris Farr (organ).
Tickets are £8.00 (includes a glass of wine) and are available from: Chris & Alex Farr on 01926 620117 or at the door.
It has been good to see the work continuing apace in the clear up process. There is a very clever cherry-picker on site which can get through doorways and then extend out and up … I know one or two people have been very impressed with it! We are beginning to collect a few mouldings from inside the church – just fragments sadly – but they will be useful in the redesign work.
You may also have noticed that the contractors are allowing our Churchyard team into the perimeter of the churchyard, to keep it looking as tidy and well-cared for as usual. This is such a bonus, as it means that those who are currently unable to visit graves of loved-ones will at least be reassured to know that the churchyard is still being tended. I am very grateful to Linford’s for their understanding and their supervision.
The bell-ringing team are still keeping their hand in, and have been welcomed at Offchurch in the interim, for which we are very grateful.
I have had some lovely cards and letters from people in the last few weeks; one particular note stands out from a young boy who doesn’t live in the village, but passed the church on his way into Leamington and wrote to me, saying how sorry he was about the church and offering the use of the digger and lifting equipment they have on their farm!
Plans are also being made for some Fund Raising events and John Taylor’s Funeral Service are running a Garage Sale this coming weekend – see below.
Barford Church are having a choir concert towards the end of May – more details to follow.
We are also in the process of setting up a website, which will help everyone who likes keeping up with information online. The address will be www.stnicholasrestoration.com and there’s a test page up online.
One disappointing note to all this has been the letters that have appeared raising questions about the church’s honesty, and linking the Restoration Fund with the old school building. I understand that the sale of the old school was a difficult issue for the village, but it seems that there is a certain amount of wrong information that has grown up around it.
So I can assure everyone that the church has not benefited from a single penny from the sale of the old school. The agreement was always that the money from the sale (and the interest accruing) would go directly to the school to pay for much needed new classrooms, and other refurbishments as the Governors see fit. The money is therefore not church money at all, and is certainly not available for the Restoration Fund. It is solely for the use of the school, to benefit the children of our village, and is being used for that purpose alone under the direction of the school’s Governing Body.
So the work continues, and once again, “Thank you” to everyone for your continued support. The next major event there should be the bells being removed, and that will be a very interesting day !
Aidan McRae Thomson, creator of the Millennium Rose Window, has been in touch. He is looking for pre-fire images of any of the stained glass windows, especially the east window.
I have some personal images of the inside of the church from 2002, to include some pictures of the windows, but we would be interested in any other photos that people may have.
I am in the process of linking in an image gallery for the site where we can share and store pre-fire photographs to help with the restoration.
If you have any photos that you would like to share, and are happy to be uploaded to the site, please email me on email@example.com.
Bulletin 3 should be printed later this coming week and delivered to homes and post office.