First report from the Rector

March 4th, 2008 David Posted in Diary reports | No Comments »

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.

The church spire was originally built along with the tower, in the 15th century, rebuilt later, and is 127 feet high Waltham Church is a grade one listed building. It is a very important feature of the local landscape. The insurance company (Ecclesiastical Insurance) have agreed to meet the claim with the church paying the first £500. This is our fourth claim this year and so we will have paid £2000 out of general funds towards repairs to a vandalised stained glass window, repairs to the amplification and loop system after the church was struck by lightning and of course the replacement of the stolen lead.

We are indebted to the Ecclesiastical Insurance Company for this support and thankful that the church can still afford he large insurance payment each year Obviously without the regular support of people in Waltham who responded to our funding campaign these bills would be difficult to pay.

Over the next two weeks scaffolding will be erected from ground level to the top of the spire. It will need to bear the weight of the spire should it collapse and so will be a substantial construction There will also be scaffolding inside the spire. Boarding has already been placed above the bells to protect them, and the church interior, from damage from loose stonework. However if the spire collapses this boarding will offer no protection. Work to erect the scaffolding will begin as soon as three quotes have been obtained and the insurance company has agreed the contractors Not every scaffolding firm wants to undertake high level repair work like this, hence the delay.

Once the scaffolding is in place the spire can be stabilised and the extent of the damage assessed Once the church is safe we will be able to reopen the church and churchyard and work to repair the tower will commence. We plan to have the first service in church on April 27th at 11am as usual. In the meantime the Easter day celebration with all its usual features will be in the Village Hall! The church will also be available for weddings, baptisms and funerals from this date, although there will be no tower bells.

However this is not the end of the story. The church has lust had its five year inspection and there are other areas where the old lady is showing her age. Work includes a new chancel roof (the roof nearest the lych gate), interior redecoration, repainting, stonework and window repairs. The church needs a new beating system and a disabled toilet and servery in the back corner of the church. If Waltham residents and friends of the church are willing, the church council would like to launch an appeal to raise funds to do all this repair and improvement work and so set the building up for future generations.

I would like to pay tribute to the church council for all the hard work and the visionary planning that they do Now the time has come for all those who love Waltham Church, for whatever reason, to work together to give the building a stable and secure future, in the community it has served so well over the last 700 years. Thank you for taking the time to read his letter It contains all the information that we have at present. In a few weeks time we will write again.

Best wishes
Beverley Stark (Rector)

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