The Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust supports churches in Wiltshire through grants to enable essential repairs and community enhancements
The Trust made grants to 43 churches in 2018, 41 churches in 2019 and owing to Coronavirus restrictions a lower number of 19 grants in 2020. Awards are listed on separate pages
Examples of repair and community enhancement projects that have been supported by the Trust are shown below.
Church Fabric Repairs
The restoration of the spire and tower of St Bartholomew’s Church in Corsham. This requirement for major project was identified in the Quinquennial Inspection report in 2005 and completed in 2012. The work included the repointing of the spire and its windows, the restoration of tower parapets and pinacles and the replacement of the bell tower flooring and access. Fundraising ran over a six year period and included two grants from the Trust.
The re-roofing of St Andrew’s Church in Castle Combe was completed in 2016. This repair work was the first and critical part of an ongoing large-scale project to restore the church and add new community facilities for the comfort of the congregation and visitors. The Trust contributed a £2,500 grant and Trustees recommended a NCT Partnership Grant of a further £2,500. The Knight’s Chapel, with the tomb of the Norman crusader, Sir Walter de Dunstanville, will also be conserved within this complex project which started in 2017. The Trust has granted £2,500 towards the restoration of the medieveal screen in the Knight’s Chapel.
Repairs to the spire of St Andrew’s Church in Newton Toney were completed in 2017.
The cedar shingles had deteriorated on one side and the local Jackdaw population had made a number of holes. This spire had last been covered in 1963 at a cost of £485. In 2017 the re-covering of the spire with cedar shingles, plus work on the vestry and chancel roofs, cost £15,850. The majority of church funding came from the Newton Toney Flower Festivals over six years and other events such as the Newton Toney fete. The Wiltshire Historic Churches Trust granted £2,000 in June 2017. A Faculty was granted for the works in September 2017 and the works commenced on 1 October 2017 and were completed in December 2017.
Repairs to the spire of Christ Church, Shaw were completed in July 2018. The work included the scaffolding of the spire and tower and a complete replacement of rotting wooden shingles with new shingles. The Trust granted £4,000 and recommended a NCT Partnership Grant of £5,000.
The seriously damaged cupola on Christ Church, Worton & Marston, was repaired and installed in August 2018 with the support of the Trust and a grant of £1500. This was also an opportunity to restore the church bell and make maximum use of the scaffolding.
Emergency repair works to the roof of St Augustine’s Church, Even Swindon were completed in 2019.
This high-level roof project included:
High level removal of plant growth and repointing brickwork at the western end of the church;
Replacement of wallplate and fascia board to North Nave walls and removal of tiles and birds nests;
Repointing in surrounding areas and of the buttress caps on north and south sides.
The Chancel roof of All Saints Church, Lydiard Millicent required extensive repairs to the woodwork and stone tiling. The aim was to make the Chancel stone roof watertight for the next 100 years. The Chancel roof was re-roofed with ‘dressed’ stone tiles, about 40% being new. A significant amount of woodwork, in oak, had to be carried out to the roof structure prior to re-fitting the stone tiles. After the canopy scaffold was removed in early February 2020, the final sealing with lime mortar was completed.
The tower floor of St John, Bishopstone was rotten and required replacement. A grant of £2,000 was made in June 2019 to assist with the payment for this vital work.
The quinquennial architect’s inspection of All Saints’ and St Mary’s, Chitterne in April 2019, in addition to the usual minor problems with some stonework, roofing, guttering and windows, revealed the need for major repairs to the bell tower roof. In essence the lead sheeting was too long and the overlaps too short, resulting in cracking allowing water leakage over many years, itself resulting in rotting to some roof timbers and the floor of the bell chamber. Mouldings & Co in South Newton were selected and, after delays caused by the weather, finally completed the work in January 2020 at a cost of some £60K.
The walls of Holy Trinity, Calne were badly affected by rising damp and there were large areas of plaster missing. The problems of woodworm and rising damp were almost certainly caused by the area on the outside of the walls being covered in tarmac. The ground water could not escape through the tarmac. This dampness has also created a good habitat for woodworm. The cutting back of the tarmac to provide a breathing, gravel filled trench should solved this problem.
Many churches have been helped with grants towards the cost of replacing or repairing rainwater goods, All Saints, Fonthill Gifford received a grant of £3,000 in June 2019 to help with their replacement project.
The St Andrew’s Church, Castle Combe ‘Make History’ project was completed in August 2018. The Trust made a grant toThe restoration of this wooden screen by skilled craftsmen has returned it to its original design. This has opened up the oldest area of the church to create a small side chapel as a place for worship and quiet contemplation. This area had previously housed the vestry, behind a locked door, with plywood boarding and security spikes over the historic screen. The re-opening has revealed some of the Scrope family memorials and the details of a bequest ‘to pay the teaching of ten poor children to read the Scriptures.’ The magnificent Scrope stained glass window can also be appreciated in all its glory. fund the restoration of the carved , medieval oak screen adjacent to the knight’s tomb (Sir Walter de Dunstanville, d. 1270).
Repairs to the vestry walls and floors in St John’s Church, West Ashton
Repairs to the tower of St Peter’s Milton Lilbourne. A crack had appeared in one corner of the bell tower, the structural engineer had recommended the insertion of steel “stitches” to strengthen the affected area. The repairs were considered essential, further cracking would have been disastrous. The Trust grant enabled this work and the church was then able to remove and restore its bells in a safe structure.
The replacement of a historic stained glass window in St Christopher, Ditteridge was completed in June 2018.
Church of St Margaret of Antioch, Chilmark – The West window was falling apart and had to be taken away for re-leading by removing the stained glass from the four main lights and the four tracery pieces. In Salisbury Cathedral stained glass workshops, each light was photographed, the glass was stripped from the old lead work, cleaned, repaired and brought back to its original colour and detail by adding fine pieces of new stained glass, all put into new lead calm matching the original, and waterproofed. The finished lights were then photographed before being re-installed, using lime mortar, into stonework in which new non-ferrous saddle bars had been fixed. The mullions and joints within the hood and tracery were made good. The result will keep the weather out for many years and has brought admiration from the great number of people who have come to look at the restored window, whose bright colours are projected on to the wall of the nave by the afternoon sunlight.
In 2019 the Porch of St Mary, Nettleton and Burton was restored with the support of the Trust. Stone repairs around the parapet, gables, drip course and walls were completed.
The restoration of historic organs is not a high priority for grants. However, where the organ has significant historic provenance and significant community value, grants will be considered. Several grants have been made in recent years.
The Willis Organ at All Saints’ and St Mary, Chitterne was acquired from a convent in Leicestershire. In the recent years it had become less reliable, with keys missing, electrical contacts corroding and wires shorting. Andrew Cooper & Co, Organ Builder, of Ryde Isle of Wight was contracted to complete a total refurbishment, cleaning and digitisation at a cost of some £28,000. The work included a digital recording system so that hymns, carols and concert music could be played when an organist was not available. The Trust granted £750 and the outcome is that this church has an invigorated organ which will provide joy to the community for another generation.
Replacements and Safety
Renovation of Toilets in Bath Road Methodist Church, Swindon
In 2015, the church toilet block was over 30 years old. Used almost every day, the block looked tired and worn out. The catalyst for change was as a result of significant damage to the walls in the Ladies’ toilets caused by rainwater seeping in through the Listed exterior stonework. The rainwater caused plaster to fall away in big chunks in the Ladies’ toilet block, exposing permanently wet-to-the-touch powdery Victorian bricks.
A new heating boiler system for St Michael and All Angels in Melsham was opened on 20th January 2018
New heating for St Margaret of Antioch, Chilmark in early 2018 to remove the old (1982) Trianco Redfyre boiler and replace it with a more energy-efficient Grant Vortex VTXBH 5870 boiler.
The boiler room at Chilmark Church is below ground, down a flight of stone steps covered by a small extension with an outside door. The new and the old boiler each weighed over 300kg. The new boiler was lowered over the steps on a makeshift wooden slide using ropes. The old boiler, condemned in 2017, had to be cut in two before it could safely be lifted out. Fitting the new steel flue liner through the masonry behind the boiler and into the existing chimney proved to be the most difficult and time-consuming part of the installation work, which began on 15th January and took three weeks.
St George, Fovant had serious electrical safety risks. The Trust granted £2,500 towards the renewal of the electrical supply system and this in turn enabled a complete modernisation of the church lighting system.
Wheelchair and pram access ramps – the Station Hill Baptist Church in Chippenham improved access significantly by adding a ramp as part of a wider enhancement to the church
The provision of kitchenettes/serveries and toilets in Christ Church in Shaw, Holy Trinity in Dilton Marsh, St Peter in Great Cheverell, Holy Cross in Seend and St Thomas a Becket in Box are good examples of the significant improvement of the quality of life for congregations that have been supported by the Trust. There are may other examples of tasteful designs and purpose-built facilities that have been financially supported by the Trust and which significantly benefit congregations.