Church Tower Restoration and Appeal


Slingsby Church Tower Repair work completed [posted 22 May 2012]

Photo by Richard Flint

The appeal started in 2009 after it was discovered that urgent work was needed to All Saints Church Tower to stabilise pinnacles, gargoyles and parapet stones that were moving outwards as the Victorian iron work holding them together had seriously deteriorated.

After a huge amount of fundraising work supported by both the village and outside donors, and the offer of grant aid by English Heritage from the Heritage Lottery fund for Listed Places of Worship, work started in March this year.

This happened just in time, because the pinnacles had become very unsafe and a big storm would have brought them crashing through the roof.

The work is finally complete, with beautifully carved new stone pinnacles made in the workshop of local Stonemason Matthias Garn. Slingsby villagers have watched the progress of the works with interest and many enjoyed a visit to the stonemasons yard near Stamford Bridge to see the carvings being made. There was also a good turnout to watch them being hoisted into position with a large crane.

The access that the builder had given to those who wanted to see what was going on has been much appreciated . It has made all those involved and who have offered support feel part of the project. We are particularly grateful to the Sports Field Committee for allowing the builders to use the club building for welfare facilities, thus saving the cost of hire over the ten weeks the builders have been here. This has saved a significant amount of money and gone a long way in  helping the PCC meet the cost of the additional work.

The fund raising has been a huge effort and a burden on the PCC and the village, but as the scaffolding has come down it is now obvious how much work has been involved and we really do feel our stonemasons have given us extraordinarily good value and that it has all been worth doing.

A service of thanksgiving is planned for 2nd September, before which the church needs a thorough clean because the cobwebs are now all full of builders dust! A special working party is scheduled for Saturday 18 August, for which we shall be seeking able-bodied volunteers to help nearer the time. If you are able to give a couple of hours of your time to help, please put this date in your dairy.

Fundraising still continues. This is needed to pay for the rest of the additional unplanned repair work to the tower roof and the shortfall in VAT repayments because of Government changes in the VAT rules which took place after the work had started. Unfortunately the Governments announcement on 17th May of additional money for churches to reclaim VAT has come too late for our work to qualify, as the money is not available until October.  Fund raising events are shown above.


Photo by Richard Flint

We now have scaffolding on the church tower a little earlier than we expected and the parapets stones are being taken down.

The Church parapet stones were extremely loose and slipping, most of the metal clamps (seen here) having completely decayed. Photo by Richard Flint

Master stonemason, Matthias Garn, is carrying out the work. As work started he discovered the parapet stones were extremely loose and slipping, most of the metal clamps having completely decayed.  The structural engineer’s 2010 estimate of two years before the tower became dangerous has been proved correct.  A good storm in this very windy corner of Slingsby, would we are told, have brought the heavy parapet stones crashing down causing an immense amount of damage as they came crashing through the main church roof. They weigh over 20 tons. The very decayed cast iron clamps are on display in the church.

New parapet stones and carved blind tracery stones will soon be installed using stainless steel clamps, which do not decay like cast iron. If you look up at the moment  the missing upper stone courses allow a view of the little pyramid shaped tiled roof which is normally hidden behind the parapets. A visit to the stonemasons workshop has been organised. Sadly this has to be before publication of the Triangle but we hope to have more information and photographs in the next issue.  The work on site will take about eight weeks.

Photo by Richard Flint

The church weather vane has been found to be in very poor condition when taken down and may well have to be replaced completely. We are awaiting costs for this but are wondering if anyone would be interested in sponsoring a new one. Finances are extremely tight anyway on the tower works already costing £106,000. The PCC is having to have another fund raising effort to raise money to pay VAT contributions which the government would have originally refunded at the point we committed to the project, but will now no longer do.

We have a series of fund raising events planned and have circulated a new appeal leaflet around the village.  Please support our efforts. The present works should put the main structure of the church in good order for the next few generations,  but once the present works are completed we still have to maintain the building. It is a significant landmark in the village and as many have remarked: ‘ one ruin is enough’.

Margaret Mackinder

More photos of the restoration can be found HERE

Update on Church Tower Repairs (4 Sep 2011).

You may have noticed that the parish church tower is now missing a pinnacle and the weather vane. Work has started on roof repairs.  This is the first phase of the essential work to the building.  The pinnacle had been taken away to the stonemason’s yard and the medieval statues will join it shortly for repair and conservation work.

This is the first phase of the work. The second phase will involve erecting scaffolding to the tower and repairing the loose masonry, and will start at the beginning of April 2012 for completion within about two months.  While the PCC has just about reached the original fundraising target for the tower works, the government has now changed the rules by which VAT can be reclaimed for this type of work to churches. When the work was planned it was possible to reclaim all the VAT, but now we are in competition with other projects for a very much-reduced fixed pot of money so we are only likely to get part of the VAT refunded and may even get nothing at all. We shall not know until we apply for the refund, which we can only do when we have paid the VAT.  On the amount of work we are doing the VAT will amount to about £17,000 so we shall still have to continue our efforts to raise money and hope for your continued support at our fund raising events.

Margaret Mackinder

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