Rev. Beverley’s update

March 18th, 2008 David

Dear residents of Waltham and friends of Waltham Church,

First of all I would like to say a big thank you for all the encouragement and concern that has come the way of the church, its congregation and its leaders. Your kindness has kept us going!

Of course there is a lot of shared anxiety too and I am sorry that due to the weather and the processing of the insurance claim it has taken so long to start work on securing the spire and starting the long rebuild. The latest I have heard is that scaffolding will start on Wednesday.

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The case of the missing louvre

March 11th, 2008 David

Missing louvre windowWe hope this isn’t a sign that things are beginning to deteriorate on the spire. But one of the top-most wooden louvres has suddenly fallen out (see right). No-one’s sure whether it’s fallen inside the spire, or been blown out onto the roof.

I’m no expert, but I’d have thought that such a wide opening to the winds and rain could further weaken the structure.

Thanks, Alan, for the photo.

14 March: Village Heritage Warden Richard Snodin writes: “I was walking down High Street yesterday afternoon, when I noticed that you can now see daylight through the spire! – just a small gap… but noticeable.

“No doubt it is through the crack and the missing louvre window.”

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Scaffolding due this week

March 10th, 2008 David

I’ve just spoken to Rev. Beverley. Here’s the current situation;

The whole project is likely to cost over £100,000 and take around six months, during which time the church and grounds will continue to be closed off. Workmen will start erecting scaffolding later this week – weather permitting. This is going to be a very difficult project as the ground slopes away, and they will have to be careful not to damage any of the grave-stones. The scaffolding will sit on a wooden platform and completely encase the church tower. It’s likely to take two weeks to erect.

The church’s insurance policy had only recently been renewed. And Beverly says they were fortunate to negotiate very good renewal terms with a £500 excess on any single claim. They’ve already had three other claims since the policy was renewed: for lightening damage, stones thrown through the porch windows, and lead stolen from the roof.

With the earthquake damage, that amounts to £2000 in insurance excess payments. But a recent five-year inspection found other problems, including damage to the stone-lined chancel roof, all of which will cost £37,500 to repair.

Beverly and her team of helpers are already planning a series of fund-raising events to try and meet these costs. We’re also hoping to put a donation button on this site soon for anyone wanting to help.

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Cherry picker fails in heavy winds

March 8th, 2008 David

Cherry pickerWaltham High Street was cut off for most of Saturday as workmen used a £2,000-a-day mobile inspection platform – known as a ‘cherry-picker’ – to try and get close enough to wrap protective canvas bands around the the cracked spire.

Unfortunately the high winds meant that it was only possible to take photographs. A frustrating day for everyone – except the press photographers who were able to take some great aerial shots.

We’ll try and get hold of some of the photos to post on this website.

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First report from the Rector

March 4th, 2008 David

To all residents of Waltham on the Wolds and friends of Waltham Church

I am sure that you will all know by now that the Waltham church steeple was severely damaged in the earthquake last week. Although I checked the church the next day, we didn’t know about the damage to the spire until after the bell ringing practice on Thursday evening.

We took photographs of the damage first thing on Friday and sent them to the church architect. He immediately said that the damage had made the spire dangerous and we must close the church and churchyard immediately. We were also asked to stop the clock as any vibration could worsen the damage By lunchtime Friday there was great media interest in the story, which has continued over the last few days. have spoken to everyone who has been interested, and tried to set right some wild rumours The Church Council had an emergency meeting last night and asked me to write this letter, so that everyone in the village would know what was happening.

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And the earth shook!

February 29th, 2008 David

An earthquake measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale struck East England at around 1am on the morning of Wednesday 27 February. Centred below Market Raisen in Lincolnshire, it was Britain’s strongest quake for over 25 years, lasting for as long as 10 seconds.

Compared to earthquakes in other parts of the world, this was hardly a serious event. One person was slightly injured when a chimney fell through his bedroom ceiling. But most of us simply wondered what that strange sensation was, and went straight back to sleep.

Thursdays are bell-ringing practice in our small Leicestershire village of Waltham on the Wolds. It was some 36 hours after the earthquake when they entered the church and found that one of the bells had been slightly dislodged. And that some rubble had fallen down from the tower.

But it was only in the cold light of Friday morning that closer examination revealed some serious damage to the 14th century spire.

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