ST. MARY'S SPIRE
“The most impressive aspect of the church is the square tower with broached octagonal belfry and stone spire."
The spire is impressive and is a landmark seen for many miles in most directions. It has also been one of the most expensive items in the upkeep of this beautiful Parish Church. Problems began early on due to the porous stone which was used in the construction.
Easter Vestry Meeting 1886
The state of the Church Tower and also the necessity of erecting a Porch to the Church were next gone into and on the motion of Mr. Stevens, seconded by Mr. Knight it was resolved that an effort be made to obtain funds for the thorough repair of the Tower and the erection of a Porch.
1897 Easter Vestry Meeting
The Vicar read a report from Edmund Sedding Esq. the Architect who had been asked to examine the Church Spire. A conversation on the subject followed and the opinion of the Vestry was expressed that the work of pointing the spire externally as advised by Mr Sedding should be undertaken next year.
1898…….owing to various circumstances work on the spire was not undertaken.
February 15th 1922
Resolved that the matter of the Church Spire be left to the Standing committee and they were to report to the next meeting.
May 23rd 1922
The Vicar presented the report of the Architect (Mr Corfield) re St. Mary’s Tower and reported an estimated cost of £400. The Diocese would make a grant of up to £100.
A special effort at Penarwyn raised £241 0s. 8 ½d which was most satisfactory. Resolved on the motion of Mrs Treffry and seconded by Mr Tibbetts that £40 be allocated to repairs at Memorial Room Par and £200 towards repairs of St. Mary’s Tower…………a subscription list be opened to help to raise the other £100. The Vicar to invite subscription. Resolved that one shilling (5p) subscription be arranged for local application.
Sept 12th 1922
Vicar reported receipt in aid of spire fund of £307
Nov. 24th 1922
……Vicar explained position of repairs to St. Mary’s spire calling for thankfulness that work had been so well carried out and for the hearty response to appeals for funds.
The Secretary gave a report of the work………..expressing satisfaction with the work carried out at the same time drawing attention to the heavy cost beyond the first estimate by the architect. The Architect was to be notified that they (PCC) wished to be informed when expenditure reached £250 and again for each £50 advance.
October 12th 1922
Committee informed cost had reached £250.
October 27th 1922
Committee informed cost had reached £330.
November 6th 1922
Committee informed cost had reached £500 and was estimated to reach £640.
The Committee requested the architect not to take out any more stonework without the consent of two members of the Committee and as soon as possible to complete the work already in hand.
It was thought that more care should have been taken in the estimating of the cost……….Attention to be called to the unsatisfactory estimate made by the Diocesan Surveyor ……expresses the hope that steps may be taken to prevent similar occurrence in any other parishes.
May 16th 1923
The report on the spire fund showed that a further sum needed to be raised locally to finish of this business.
The spire, with its octagonal lantern, is often praised by people with an eye for architecture. In 1923 the top half was rebuilt at a cost of £800. The present Church Council is building upon a Fabric Fund, for the replacement of the weathered stonework in the tower, and for the felting and re-slating of the roofs of the nave, south side and chancel. The total estimated cost is about £3000.
In 1994 the architect suggested that as we could not stop water coming into the tower why not divert it. New flooring was installed in the bell tower and an umbrella system fitted above the bell floor. The water coming into the spire runs down a huge umbrella into gutters around the inside walling and is then channelled out through a pipe on the west wall. This cured 75 % of the problem. Recently we have had the south facing wall re-pointed and this has helped but not cured the problem completely.
Regrettably, the stone used in the construction of the tower is so porous that the tower has constantly leaked during long periods of rain and water runs down the interior surfaces of the tower. The situation cannot be improved and has been a constant concern since construction in 1849 and has now reached critical proportions. Major renovation work is now needed to ensure the continued stability and safety of the tower. The remedial work will take up to 6 years.
It will be interesting to read the reports of the next 50 years ! Watch this space!!!