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Extensive masonry and maintenance repairs restore Colchester Cemetery Chapel

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Extensive masonry and maintenance repairs restore Colchester Cemetery Chapel

April 9, 2024 Rachel Finlay Comments Off

Colchester Cemetery Chapel is a historic Anglican cemetery chapel with a history spanning 160 years. Understood to have been constructed in 1855, the chapel had become derelict over recent years. With Colchester Borough Homes acting on behalf of Colchester Council, Bakers were awarded the works to carry out external masonry and other maintenance repairs as well as decorative improvements.

Bakers began the restoration project in June 2023 and completed its transformation in February 2024.

An overview of the restoration works

  • Extensive restoration of the Kentish Ragstone walling and limestone dressings, involving rebuilding of walling, incorporating new walling stones, quoin and string stones, and a new carved apex stone & window label stops.
  • Repointing and internal plastering using lime mortar.
  • Roof slating repairs
  • Repairs and replacement to rainwater goods and surface water drainage
  • Redecoration of eaves fascia’s, external doors and the West Porch. 

Protecting the resident bats

A challenge to overcome was that the chapel had become home to a population of bats. As a protected species, the restoration process involved collaborating with the Bat Conservation Trust. This involved pinpointing the ‘bat window’ and designing an operational plan. The plan ensured the natural passage of the bats was not obstructed and the use of hand tools in the maternity roost area to reduce noise and vibration.

Masonry repairs and stone carving

The external masonry was heavily weathered and so this required replacing.

A natural stone called Stoke Ground Base Bed limestone, was used to replace the stone dressings such as quoins, kneeler, copings, plinths and string stones.


New moulded column plinth stones, apex stone and window label stops were carved using Lavoux à grain which was specially imported from France. The walling was repaired using Ragstone supplied by Gallagher Quarries and was cut and dressed on site by Baker’s masons.Replacement of a variety of intricate carved stones and shaped dressings required careful measurement and detailing for the stones to be reproduced.

Roof, path and final redecoration

Roof slating repairs and repairs and replacement of rainwater goods and surface water drainage were undertaken. Redecoration of eaves fascia’s, external doors and the West Porch.

The existing asphalt path covering was removed, and a new path was laid on the West side of the Chapel comprising new sub base and shingle with stone pavings.

Adrian Ward, the Bakers of Danbury Church Department Manager, echoes the comments given by a spokesman for Colchester Council who said;

“Colchester is extremely fortunate to have a wealth of fascinating buildings of historic interest, not least the locally listed Cemetery and Crematorium Chapel.

“This essential restoration work, which includes masonry repairs and external redecoration works, will ensure one of our most cherished heritage assets receives the protection it richly deserves and will continue to serve the needs of mourners and visitors for many more years to come.”