Last month we brought you our first video from Chorley. We had started work on the steeple and were bringing it down in small tiers. If you need reminding of that, do check our recap in the Videos section of the site.
But since then we’ve been hard at work on the whole exterior of the building. And in our latest video, Project Manager Scott is on hand to give you the complete run-down.
First of all, the steeple that we last saw in dozens of pieces has been rebuilt. It was not as simple as it looked, with previous works from some thirty years ago getting in the way. When you’re up close at the top of a steeple it’s much more obvious to the eye. A new steel cross tree was installed eight courses down to hold the new steeple cross. The remaining pieces were then carefully placed and bedded in position. We used the original masonry clamps in their original grooves to maintain authenticity.
We used a lime mix to repoint the whole west side of the church. We raked out all the existing mortar, some of which was harder than others. But after ensuring the right mix, we repointed all the open joints. The use of lime is to help the breathability of the limestone, extending the life of the building.
A few new crosses were installed on the church. First of all, decades of ferocious weather had led to one stone cross being completely cracked. It was removed and a brand new one was cut by our skilled stonemasons. The severely corroded steel rod fixing the cross in place was removed and replaced by a brand new stainless steel peg. This new pole would not rust and expand in bad weather, preventing the new stone cross from splitting.
Additionally, the metal cross at the top of the steeple was removed and restored. The steel cross tree, a short way down the steeple, was badly corroded and needed replacing. This was fabricated by our metalwork team and installed on-site. When the steeple was rebuilt, the cross tree was bedded in at the eighth course. This comes with a central slot in which the new cross, with extended pole, will sit into.
Stained Glass Windows
We reached out to our friends at Pendle Stained Glass for this one. The local Lancashire company extracted the delicate stained glass windows, disassembled them and cleaned each piece. They put it all back together and secured it in their existing frames. Because the damage to the windows was done by strong gusts of wind over the years, they decided some protection was required. So, a large Perspex window now sits in front of the stained glass windows, secured in the frame. This protects the window from rain, wind, debris and vandalism, as well as keeping them cleaner, letting more light in.
Still To Do
The external work is done so the job moves inside now. There is still some plasterwork to do on the upper levels and that is the next priority. We’re also fitting a new bell rope, and improving access to the belfry. Obviously it is still a working church so we have to time our work carefully. But ultimately we want to present the church back to the community in top shape.