Heritage Lottery Funded masonry repairs to Dartmoor tower underway
— 02 Nov 2016
Work has started at St. Petroc’s church in the parish of South Brent to minimise water penetration into the historic Norman church tower thanks to a grant of nearly £200,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund South West. The money will also go towards installing a completely new system of LED lighting for the Grade 1 listed Church, which will save energy and money, and enhance the community use of the building.
The total cost of the project is £325,000 and there have also been significant grants from a number of other organisations, including the Devon Historic and National Churches Trusts, South Brent Community Energy Society and fund raising by the church
The tower dates back some 900 years, and is recognised as being among the best surviving Norman towers in Devon. The church was built on the site of an earlier Saxon church. Water penetration into the tower has affected the upper floor structures, internal finishes, electrics and use of the choir vestry at the base of the tower.
The work on the tower will involve removing the merlons and embrasures (crenellations) at the top to install a waterproof course, before replacing them, and replacing rotten wooden joists internally. Voids inside the tower walls will be filled by lime grouting, and all the joints between the stones in the tower repointed in traditional lime mortar. Some of the work will be carried out by apprentices, so traditional skills can be passed on to a new generation of specialist builders. With the mains electricity supply secure from damp, the opportunity will also be taken to renew the wiring and lighting inside the main body of the church. The present high level fittings and incandescent light bulbs will be replaced with energy efficient LED bulbs in adjustable fittings.
The conservation specialist main contractor is Carrek Ltd. of Bristol, who carried out the HLF development stage of the project. Carrek are looking to source additional stone for repairs to the tower parapet from Blackenstone quarry, Mortonhampstead which supplied much of the granite to build Castle Drogo and has recently been re-opened to supply the National Trust for repairs (https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/castle-drogo/features/saving-castle-drogo).
Work is expected to take six months to complete and scaffolding and protections to the tower will be kept in place over the winter to protect the lime mortar from the weather.
Our project featured in the Herald Express - for further reading, a pdf of the article is attached.