Category Archives: Heritage

Repairs to Bourn Windmill

Summary = Timber repairs to Bourn Windmill - the oldest windmill in the UK

Location = Caxton, Cambridge

Repairs to Bourn Windmill = This open trestle post mill is the oldest surviving windmill in the UK, and is Grade I Listed and designated an Ancient Monument. The entire weight of this windmill is supported on a central post, which is supported by a trestle. We have raised the buck by approx. 100mm clear of the main post to carry out urgent repairs to the timber trestle.

Repairs to Bourn Windmill include installing replacement trestles constructed from air dried oak (minimum 4 yeas fallen). A traditional joint will be formed by hand and held in place with iron brackets & rods. Bakers will construct four replacement brick piers) which will need to cure for 28 days before any loading is placed on them.

How Trestle Post Mills Work

The post mill is the earliest type of European windmill. It's defining feature is that the whole body of the mill that houses the machinery is mounted on a single vertical post, around which it can be turned to bring the sails into the wind. It takes around two or three people to turn the mill around to bring the sails into the wind, and although it is a dramatic job it is fairly easy to do so. All post mills have an arm projecting from them on the side opposite the sails and reaching down to near ground level.

Bourn Mill Project Tours

The mill is currently closed whilst repair works are being carried out to the rotted timber trestle - however the general public enjoyed seeing the work in action during two project tours which took place in July and August 2022.

History of Bourn Windmill

The earliest written record of Bourn Mill was made in 1636. This style of mill has barely been changed since the 13th century. In 2021, scientists attempted to age the timbers in the mill and concluded that the tree that provided the huge timber for the main post in the mill was cut down during 1513-49, making it the oldest wood in any mill in the UK. Various structures and parts on the mill were replaced over the centuries as they wore out or rotted. The machinery dates from the 19th century and the trestle was renewed using oak in 1874.

Save Bourn Mill

Works to the save the mill are being supported by significant grants from the Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England. To find out more about the Save Bourn Windmill Appeal click here.

Church Redecoration

Summary = Church redecoration and repair to St Bartholomew Church in Wickham Bishops

Location = Wickham Bishops, Essex

Awards = DAC Design Awards Scheme 2022 (Highly Commended)

Solution = Bakers recently carried out the ornate decoration of the church to St Bartholomew in Wickham Bishops.

St Bartholomew’s is Grade II listed and is a fine example of Victorian Gothic church architecture.  The church was built in 1850 by Sarah Leigh in memory of her father, the Reverend. Thomas Leigh who was Rector from 1803 to 1843.  The church was designed by Ewin Christian and is built of Kentish Ragstone and Caen stone. It replaces the redundant St Peter’s church to the west, over the disused railway line. The 120 foot high spire is a local landmark visible from the A12.

This project won Highly Commended at the DAC Design Awards Scheme 2022

Church Extension

Summary: Construction of a new new extension to provide the church with a new meeting area, kitchenette and an accessible WC

Location: Helion Bumpstead

Value: £245,000

Bakers of Danbury are currently building an extension to St Andrews Church in Helions Bumpstead. The extension will provide the parishioners with a new meeting area, kitchenette and an accessible WC. Constructed from a block inner skin with a handmade imperial red brick outer skin, the extension is being built on a 0.6m deep footing. Although due to being on a slope, in areas the footprint of the extension was excavated 1.2m below the existing ground level, which was all carried out with an archaeological watching brief. Once the footprint had been dug, it was covered with a sand intervention layer which helps prevent any further deterioration of the medieval graves which had been partially uncovered. A 0.25m air gap was left between the sand layer and a block and beam floor.

As the extension is partially below ground level a tanking system was installed to the outer brick and inner walls. The bespoke roof was constructed from oak trusses and covered in Cwt-y-Bugail Welsh slate. Water services were run into the church using new MDPE barrier pipe (to prevent contamination) and the power supply was upgraded. Underfloor heating and wall radiators were installed to the extension. The windows to the new extension were constructed of new steel framed casements, within bespoke oak frames produced by our own joinery department. The steel windows have the thinnest sight lines in the industry, thanks in part to the fact they are filled with Krypton, a very dense and highly energy efficient gas, perfect for listed buildings.

Bakers’ joinery workshop also manufactured two external oak doors and an arch headed door in oak to access the new extension from the church.

Take a look at our short film on woodcarving


Church Structural Repairs

Summary: Bakers of Danbury recently carried our structural repairs, underpinning to the South and North elevations of the Nave to St Marys Church in Mundon, Essex

Location: Mundon, Essex

Value: £286,000

St Marys Church in Mundon is a grade I Listed monument, owned by Friends of Friendless Churches, who describe it as a church that needs a lot of care with unstable ground. Friends of Friendless Churches carried out the latest monitoring technology to understand how, why and when the church is moving.

With the help from a grant, the Friends of Friendless Churches instructed Bakers of Danbury to carry out underpinning to the South and North elevations of the Nave to structurally support the church.

The method of underpinning was determined by the assigned surveyor, and piling drilled at calculated intervals along the interior and exterior of the walls. Sections were dug in intervals under the walls. Reinforcing cages were run through the dug intervals (under the walls), to the inner piles and along the exterior of the walls, interlocking with the drilled piling. The reinforcing cages were covered with cordek heaveguard to the sides and cordek cellcore to the underside. Cordek heaveguard and cellcore are designed to protect ground beams and pile caps from the effects of ground heave. Overtime it disintegrates leaving a void/ air pocket which enables the clay soils space to swell when wet. As soil cannot expand downwards or sideways, the exposed upper surface of the soil will rise up - the void/air pocket will allow this movement without causing heave pressure to the new underpinning structure, and the building it is supporting.

Where internal piling was to take place, Bakers lifted the existing tile pamments from the floor and returned them after works had taken place. Damaged tiles were replaced with new Bulmer handmade clay pamments to match the existing.

A grave slab was revealed when two stone slabs were removed inside the church (south east side) in preparation for drilling a pile. The hole was enlarged to reveal the 15th century grave slab, which would have originally been level with the floor (the floor level has been raised in the 19th century). On the slab indents can be interpreted as a vertical human figure, with a horizontal band below it which would have had an inscription. Pins were visible which were used to fix brasses in place.

Externally a door which had previously been blocked and rendered was rebricked up and a new breathable render applied in addition to areas with damaged render. To the east window Bakers of Danbury replace a tile fillet with a stone sill in Portland limestone.

Bakers removed failing plaster on the ceiling and made repairs before painting it in soft distemper, a breathable paint. The walls were not redecorated as they contain many paintings directly on the walls which include Fragments of medieval murals depicting East Anglian King Edmund (841-869) and a Baroque trompe l’oeil mural over the east window showing tassels and heavy curtains being drawn aside.

After works were completed the rare Georgian box pews were put back in places.

Take a look at our short film on woodcarving


Structural Repairs to a Rectory

Summary = Structural repairs to a Rectory

Location = Tolleshunt Knights, Essex

Bakers recently carried out structural repairs to a Rectory in Tolleshunt Knights for the Community of St John the Baptist. The flank wall was removed and two existing walls underpinned due to subsidence.

Temporary support for the structure was designed by an independent engineer using props, scaffold and timbers. Once the structure was supported from the ground floor to the roof level; two walls were removed, 3 meter foundations constructed and the walls were reconstructed using the salvaged brick (which had been consecrated many years prior), supplemented with new bricks to match existing. To underpin two existing walls, a trench was opened and pins were formed, ensuring it was supported at all times.

Bakers protected and removed the religious artifacts, fittings and furniture before the flank wall was removed. Those rooms affected were later plastered, redecorated and all services were made good. All external walls were re-rendered and a mosaic mural created by Sister Gabriella was inset within the render

To keep up to date on similar conservation projects carried out by Bakers of Danbury visit our Latest News page or the Bakers of Danbury Facebook page.

Cathedral Preventative Maintenance

Summary = Planned and preventative maintenance for Chelmsford Cathedral

Location = Chelmsford, Essex

Challenge = Bakers of Danbury are the appointed Retained Contractor for the planned and preventative maintenance, as well as emergency works, to the Grade 1 listed Chelmsford Cathedral over a two-year period.

The preventative maintenance to the Cathedral includes the roofs, rainwater disposal and clearing all hopperheads and downpipes of debris as well as regularly checking for damage. Such damage is reported to the Surveyor.

Bakers follow a schedule of maintenance inspections broken down by month and Cathedral location to ensure the Cathedral is thoroughly inspected and maintained throughout the year. Bakers provide a detailed inspection report every month. The report provides inspection results broken down by the location within the Cathedral.

Bakers notify the Cathedral’s representative of any variation from the regular maintenance programme as soon as possible including changes in the timescale for delivery and variation to the estimate of cost. When recommending solutions to both emergency and planned maintenance issues Bakers will always ensure all work carried out is as cost effective as possible.

Bakers have carried out various restoration works and preventative maintenance to Chelmsford Cathedral since the 1960’s

To keep up to date on similar conservation projects carried out by Bakers of Danbury visit our Latest News page or the Bakers of Danbury Facebook page.