The pictures on this page were supplied by the architects and surveyors Smith and Roper, of Bakewell. See the gallery for captions. This project was made possible thanks to grants from H.M. Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport under its Listed Places of Worship (LPOW) Roof Repair Fund and Listed Places of Worship Grant Scheme.
The LORD hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. (Psalm 126:3)
Matlock parish is presently celebrating the successful repair and restoration of large areas of St Giles’s church roof – work which was for all practical purposes completed early in May this year. This project was made possible by grants covering around one third of the total cost of the works involved from H.M. Government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport under its Listed Places of Worship (LPOW) Roof Repair Fund and Grant Scheme. (The latter facility reimburses the VAT charged on the cost of works carried out on eligible buildings).
The need for repair and restoration work on the church roof was first identified as ‘urgent and necessary within the next 24 months’ in the 2015 Quinquennial Inspection. (The ‘QI’ is a rolling five-yearly inspection of ecclesiastical buildings in the Derby Diocese carried out under the aegis of the diocese).
The major element of the project was the renewal of the slate covering of the south slope of the church nave roof and associated parapets and the insertion of an impermeable membrane between the slates and the supporting timbers, but the works affected most of the roof, including that of the tower. The programme also made possible the repair of eroded and damaged stone-work and mortar bonding and the removal of rusting metal fixtures, some of which dated back to the refurbishment of the church in the nineteenth century and were threatening to render the surrounding structures ‘iron-sick’.
In addition to this, the administrators of the LPOW Roof Repair Fund agreed that the works should also include the installation of safety railings along the ‘French Drain’ – a drainage channel up to 10’ at its deepest that runs west-to-east around and down the north façade of the church. The new fixtures supplemented the partial railings which had been in place around the drain since the nineteenth century refurbishment.
St Giles PCC had long anticipated the need for work on the roof and had established a dedicated fund for that purpose. This was augmented by generous donations from individual parishioners and others over a period of years. The terms of the roof repair fund grant required that the parish meet around two thirds of the total cost of the project (excluding VAT) and the existence of roof fund alone made it possible for the PCC to take advantage of the grants and commission the work in good time without the need for a long period of fund-raising.
Nevertheless, the PCC acknowledges that without the support it received from many quarters nothing would have been done. Such supporters included: The Archdeacon of Chesterfield whose powerful Letter of Commendation backing up the PCC’s technical application was instrumental in securing the grant from the LPOW Roof Repair Fund; and the Diocesan Advisory Committee of the Derby Diocese (the DAC which) advises the Diocesan Chancellor on the statutory permissions (AKA ‘faculties’) required before any work can be undertaken. The DAC could not have been more helpful in facilitating the issue of the necessary faculties for the roof and the railings while taking good care to ensure that the programme as a whole was ‘fit for purpose’.
The LPOW Fund Contract Officer was also most supportive in bringing the project to a point where the fund could issue its permission for the work to begin – around about the beginning of 2017 – and then in maintaining a light supervision of its progress. The PCC is particularly grateful for his sympathetic understanding of how the installation of the French Drain railings would complement the roof restoration project.
Finally, the PCC commends the professionalism of the architects and builders who carried out the works. These included: Smith and Roper of Bakewell who produced the initial technical specifications and cost estimates required to support the grant application and then guided the works through to a successful conclusion; and A.J. Restoration Co Ltd of Bulwell, Nottingham, who undertook the repair and conservation work and brought it to completion on time and well under the original budget with well-honed efficiency. All this was achieved with a minimum of disruption to the essential work of the St Giles church building as a House of God.
The PCC is confident that the project has secured the fabric of the church in good order for many years to come. From its ‘High Place’ above the Matlock that building will continue to serve its ancient purpose as a Beacon of the Christian Faith.
To finish on a lighter note, the PCC is happy to reflect on an important incidental benefit of the whole exercise… An ecological audit which had to be carried out before the project could go ahead established that St Giles church building did not host bats in its belfry or, indeed, anywhere else in its roof space. The presence of such unwelcome visitors could well have scuppered the project before it even got underway!