As the village’s only public building, Nether Winchendon Church is in constant use for Sunday services, bell ringing, weddings and village meetings and events.
The centuries of wear and tear had largely gone unnoticed by the congregation.
It was only when the slim vicar invited his portly Bishop to address them, that they had a collective panic-attack on seeing him ascend to what they now realised was a very rickety pulpit.
They had visions of him disappearing through the floor to some undignified hell.
Thankfully nothing happened, but the congregation saw that something had to be done to save not just their visitors, but also their precious building.
Johnston Cave Associates were appointed to assess and supervise the necessary repairs to conservation standards; a challenge that we have many years of vital experience with.
Our survey showed that repairs were required to the timber floors of the clock tower and gallery as well as to the Tower base cobbled floor. Masonry Repairs were required to the external tower stonework - particularly at a high level. The masonry was unstable in the South Porch and its roof needed repairs and at the same time we saw that the main roof in general required repairs to tiles, gutters and downpipes. We also noted that many of the table tombs had subsided and some had collapsed.
What was most pressing as the congregation had already identified, was the urgent repairs required to the Nave timber floors, wall panelling and pews.
Lifting the floors for the first time in centuries revealed an interesting collection of builder’s detritus including clay pipes, a William II penny, fragments of 15th Century stained glass and some disarticulated bones (human and chicken). There were of course bats in the belfry. Not just any bats, but one of the country’s largest collection of Natterer’s bats which work had to be scheduled around, to offer the least disturbance to them.
The thought of the bishop being invited back, concentrated fund-raising minds and both phase I and phase II were fully funded and completed with grant assistance. The congregation had their building safely back and their consciences could be clear again.