Category Archives: Church Works

A set of recent Church works projects by Bakers of Danbury

Newington Green Meeting House

Summary = Restoration, refurbishment and a new build basement level extension

Value = approximately £1,100,000

Location = Stoke Newington

Architect = Richard Griffiths Architects

Challenge = Limited access and limited space for storing materials

The restoration, refurbishment and a new build basement level extension to Newington Green Meeting House in north London is well underway. The £1.1 million project started February 2019, and is on track to meet the project deadline of February 2020.

Built in 1708 the Grade II listed Newington Green Unitarian Church is one of England's oldest Unitarian churches. It has had strong ties to political radicalism for over 300 years and is known as the “Birthplace of Feminism” due to its connections to activist and writer Mary Wollstonecraft. The Dissenters, a group that campaigned for religious freedom, social reform and the abolition of slavery, also used the Meeting House.

A grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has given the Meeting House the opportunity to future-proof and preserve its iconic heritage legacy. The project will provide a new visitor centre to enable local schoolchildren, researchers and community groups to make the most of the building’s rich heritage.

Bakers are also restoring the Schoolroom and constructing a basement to accommodate facilities including a meeting room, three w/c, a plantroom and lift shaft going from basement level to the first floor. To construct the basement, Bakers have excavated 4m deep, formed a new steel reinforced slab, carried out underpinning and structural steel works to support the ground floor walls. An underground drainage and tanking system were installed to the basement level as well as a ducting and airflow system.

As part of the restoration works the existing external render will be removed to enable localised brick repair, before new render is applied. Roof repairs will take place and a new roof light installed within the apse roof (a semi-circular recess at the end of the chapel). A new raised entrance ramp and reception area into the chapel will be formed and an extensive AV package installed.

The entrance into church is temporarily at the back of the building whilst works continue. The front of the church is restricted to site access only by using ply hoarding and pedestrian barriers. Internally the work areas are sheeted up and alternative routes made to channel visitors and staff to the site office and segregate works from other areas. There is a separate compound for storing materials and a site office has been located within the limited space available.

St Peter & St Paul’s, Stoke

Summary = Structural and restoration works carried out to St Peter and St Paul's Church, a 12th century Grade I Listed church including 20m long foundation piling, roof and masonry repairs.

Value = approximately £450,000

Location = St Peter and St Paul's Church, Upper Stoke, Kent

Architect = Rena Pitsilli-Graham

Challenge = Structural movement to the south aisle of the 12th century, Grade I Listed church had caused substantial damage to walls and roof finishes. As a result, a major restoration of the aisle was necessary, with associated masonry works to the tower and re-roofing of the nave and chancel.

Solution = Bakers of Danbury carried out underpinning of the South Aisle to St Peter and St Paul's Church, during which 20m long foundation piles were carefully positioned, so not to disturb any archaeology below ground.

A new tiled roof was installed to the aisle following timber repairs, along with structural repairs carried out to the south aisle. The nave, chancel and aisle roofs were retiled with a specially selected blend of new handmade tiles to replace the old.

Masonry repairs were carried out throughout St Peter and St Paul's Church.

To the historically important tower, we carried out consolidation and pointing of the masonry and fitted new Kent rag stone (supplied by Baker’s sister company Collins and Curtis Masonry Ltd) which replaced damaged stone on the windows, parapet and turret. We also removed a damaging cement covering to the parapet top, and reinstated the original and unique brick copings.

A new gleaming weather vane was added to celebrate the reversing of many years of decline and decay.

Structural and repair works to St Peter and St Paul's Church were awarded The King of Prussia Gold Medal (Highly Commended) in the Church Architecture Awards 2018 (run by the National Churches Trust and the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association (EASA).

English Oak Storage & WC

Summary: English Oak bespoke DDA and Dementia friendly toilet, storage cupboards, children's library and pew storage area

Location: St Mary’s Church, Saffron Walden

Architect: Kay Pilsbury Thomas Architects

Challenge: Attention to detail was important in this project as it was all made of English Oak and stained on site. There was no room for error!

Solution: One of the largest parish churches in Essex, the building dates mainly from the fifteenth century.

Bakers of Danbury’s Specialist Joinery department manufactured and installed a bespoke DDA and Dementia friendly toilet, storage cupboards, children's library and pew storage area. All were crafted by our Joiners from English Oak in our joinery shop, it was then taken apart and wrapped flat pack for transit, before being fitted by our onsite carpenters.

Great attention was paid to the highest spec soundproofing, with all panels either insulated with a solid block board or infilled with bricks to eliminate noise. The WC door alone weighed over 100kg.

Every post included a hand carved crocus detail to the top. The complete project was very detailed and complex with hand carved designs, modern sliding doors and bespoke detailed cornice which ran around the top of the complete project.

To watch a video of our skilled Joiner hand carving a crocus detail Click here.

Westminster Abbey

Summary = Roof works to the medieval South Triforium and the Great Cloister within Westminster Abbey.

Value = Approximately £1,450,000

Location = Westminster, London

Architect = Ptolemy Dean Architects Ltd

Challenge = Access issues and restrictions due to the main access route into site being through the Great Cloister - a busy area of the Abbey accessible to the public from 9.30am every day.

Solution = Under the instruction from Ptolemy Dean Architects Ltd (Westminster Abbeys Surveyor of the fabric) Bakers carried out roof works to the medieval South Triforium and the Great Cloister within Westminster Abbey.

70ft above the Abbey floor, the new gallery provides visitors with magnificent views down over the Abbey buildings and the Palace of Westminster. Roof works carried out by Bakers involved stripping the existing roof, recasting original lead and re-leading part of the South Triforium and part of the Main Cloister.

A full overhaul of the rainwater goods was also carried out, with a combination of new and refurbished lead downpipes, hoppers and chutes fitted. A new hopper, corbel stone and 22 metre downpipe was introduced, formed to mirror the Christopher Wren era hoppers that were already in use.

Bakers increased the gradient of the Triforium roof by increasing the fall of the lead bays (compliant with lead sheet association guidelines). Other structural repairs included reinforcing 300-year-old oak primary rafters using a flitch plate repair and other associated structural repairs to the oak roof.

Other works include the provision of a new access hatch and fall arrest system, stone repairs and indents to internal and external elevations and the careful re-homing of monuments and statues from other parts of the Abbey onto the Triforium floor.

The new freestanding external access ladder with a handrail was crafted from European Oak. It was a good project for our recently qualified joiner Jack Darvill to work on.

With the improvements to the rainwater goods, Bakers also undertook the renewal of the below ground drainage within the Great Cloister, which will also included the exciting addition of a fountain positioned in the centre of the Cloister, formed on York Stone paving with a lead cistern fountain.

Works were completed Spring 2018, in time for the opening of a new museum and gallery, located in the Abbey's medieval Triforium. After being hidden from public over 700 years, the Triforium became “The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Galleries”.

Jim Vincent, Clerk of the Works at Westminster Abbey said:

Bakers of Danbury have successfully managed access issues and restrictions whilst carrying out the works at the Abbey. The main access route into site is through the Great Cloister, which is a busy area of the Abbey accessible to the public from 9.30am every day.

We have found Bakers of Danbury to be considerate of the public and employees of the Abbey and have undertaken the works to the Abbey with the utmost care and attention at all times and look forward to continuing our working relationship with them in the future. The high standard of work is commensurate with the status of the building and is what is expected of contractors working at Westminster Abbey."

St Swithun’s Church, Great Chishill

Summary = Conservation and alteration works to St Swithun’s Church, Great Chishill

Value = approximately £238,000

Location = Great Chishill, South Cambridgeshire

Architect = Barker Associates

Solution = Bakers of Danbury recently carried out conservation and alteration works to St Swithun’s Church in Great Chishill, which involved extensive conservation of the church tower including repointing and replacement of external flint, refurbishment of the clock dials, replacement of the oak belfry louvres and new lightning protection.

Further works to the base of the tower included the addition of a disabled w/c facility and the provision of new mains water and drainage to the church.

St Mary’s Church, Stotfold

Summary = A major renovation to where large areas of external stonework had failed at St Mary's Church Stotfold.

Value = approximately £160,000

Location = Stotfold, Bedfordshire

Architect = Barker Associates

Challenge = This failure was mainly due to the fact that it was constructed using ‘Clunch’ stone which in its day was sourced locally, but being a very soft and pervious stone has not stood the tests of time.

Solution = The replacement stone was produced by our sister company Collins & Curtis Masonry. Clipsham Stone was used in place of Clunch for an all weathering stone which will stand up the elements better overtime.

All other stonework to ornate tracery sections to windows and door surrounds was replaced with Chicksgrove as good quality Clunch is now becoming difficult to source.

The results to the church has been a fantastic success and we have since secured additional works internally which start in January 2018.

St Catherine’s Church, East Tilbury

Summary =A sympathetic extension and redecoration to St Catherine's Church, East Tilbury to provide a new kitchen area and toilet facilities. Works also included a new heating installation to both the extension and church, along with a full renovation of flooring, walls and roof to the main church.

Value = £330,000

Location = East Tilbury, Essex

Architect =Inkpen Downie Architecture and Design Ltd

Solution = St Catherine's Church, East Tilbury is an important survival from the 12th century. The site is associated with the first church established by St Cedd.

Works involved an extension and redecoration to St Catherine's Church, East Tilbury. The parishioners were consulted to set out requirements for the building which was to provide some basic amenities such as a kitchen and toilet facilities.

Designed to allow focus to remain on the existing Church building; the extension is a simple free-standing structure with no interference on the existing structure. The external walls are clad in weathered horizontal oak boarding, reminiscent of timber porches commonly found in Essex where stone is a scarce material. The roof is configured to allow the use of pan-tiles without encroaching on existing openings. The foundations are a shallow raft supported on piles, to minimise interference with burials and underlying archaeology.

When the opening to the west door was unblocked to provide access to the new extension, it revealed decayed and missing stonework. This was reinstated and repaired with great attention to detail.

Internally, a new heating system was installed within the extension and church and the floors, walls and roof to main church were all renovated.

The new kitchen and toilet facility, together with a new heating system makes the church more usable as a place of worship.

Works were completed January 2016. The new facilities have enabled the Church to open for teas and homemade cakes from Easter to October on the afternoons of the last Sunday in the month and on Bank holiday Mondays.

This project was recently Highly Commended at the Diocese of Chelmsford, Design Awards 2017 for Development and Restoration.

Photos credited to Inkpen Downie Architecture and Design Ltd

Chelmsford Cathedral

Summary = Replacement of sand cast lead roof, including structural roof timber repairs, masonry works, internal plastering and redecoration to the Victorian Song School, Chelmsford Cathedral

Value = approximately £200,000

Location = Chelmsford Cathedral

Architect = Purcell Architects

Challenge = Works carried out to a very high standard of craftsmanship despite the inherent difficulties of working at a busy Cathedral with regular events requiring noise restrictions. Complex detailing of the new roof structure constructed over the existing roof trusses.

Solution = The church department have spent the summer of 2017 removing the existing lead and boarding to the Victorian Song School roof structure which over the years had been sagging due to its poor construction methods.

As it is part of a Grade I Listed building, the remit for the scheduled works was to construct a new steel roof frame over the existing timber structure below, which then had to be connected to hold the existing timbers in their current position. Once we had secured this in place it then received a complete new timber structure over the top, which was topped off with new lead. Internally new lath and plaster adorns the ceiling.

This project involved Intensive site management and close liaison with Cathedral staff and project team.

Looking at the job now, before and after doesn’t look like we have done anything, which is always a good sign with a restoration project!

St Albans Cathedral

Location = The Cathedral and Abbey Church of St Alban (North Ambulatory, Transfiguration Chapel & South Cloister)

Value = £207,000

Architect = Richard Griffiths Architects

Summary = External stone conservation, replacement & repairs, repairs to leaded glazing and replacement sand cast lead roofing.

Challenge = Works were carried out to a very high standard of craftsmanship despite the inherent difficulties of working at a busy Cathedral with regular events requiring noise restrictions and nearby heavy pedestrian traffic within a town centre.

Solution = Intensive site management and close liaison with Cathedral staff & Local Authorities to ensure the works are undertaken safely and minimise inconvenience to the Client’s daily events within the Cathedral.

Having worked on St Albans Cathedral over 17 years, Bakers of Danbury have a long-running and on-going relationship with the Cathedral which we are very proud to be a part of and consider it a privilege to maintain this incredible building for future generations to utilise and appreciate.

This project was recently awarded a RIBA National Award 2017, RIBA East 2017 award and a RIBA East 2017 award for Conservation.

St Christopher’s Church

Summary = Restoration of church roof, including strengthening and alterations to meet modern regulations.

Value = £162,000

Location = Willingale, Essex

Architect = Simon Marks - Purcell

Challenge = Fitting a new compliant roof structure into the old C14th roof timbers without disturbing the original structure and pegged joints, or affecting the existing plaster and lath ceiling. Every new rafter had to be fitted bespoke, shaving millimetres off at various points along their lengths to allow it to fit in the roof space available.

Solution = Works included stripping tiles and battens and re-roofing using bat-friendly felt, batten and tiling with hand-made Tudor tiles. Carrying out timber repairs and strengthening to the roof structure. Installing secondary roof structure in softwood to meet modern regulations regarding rafter spacing. Adjusting and adapting rainwater goods to suit new roof.