St Michael and All Angels Church, Shefford has received initial support* and a grant of £19,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) towards development work on a project to restore its historic tower, currently obscured by safety fencing and scaffolding to protect the public.
St Michael’s will then be able to apply for a full grant of £220,900, made possible by National Lottery players, to complete the project. The restoration will involve the removal and replacement of the render and stone trim (stringers) on the tower’s belfry.
Some time ago render, and lumps of stone trim began falling from the tower. Investigations revealed that moisture being retained in the walls of the upper section of the tower was the primary cause of the problem.
Further inspection and research discovered that when repairs to the belfry were undertaken in the 1980’s, a sand and cement grout was injected in an attempt to stabilise the upper tower structure.
The cement grout has prevented the stonework from breathing, trapping moisture which has caused the render to crack and fall.
The stone trim is made of 'Clunch' - a soft and easily eroded form of limestone. The sections that have fallen are simply showing their age, and will need to be replaced.
Planned activities, associated with the project, include the publication of a booklet about the history of the church, a similar children’s booklet and quiz, and a leaflet for a heritage walking trail starting from the church, giving directions and information about the historic buildings of Shefford.
St Michael’s is situated in Shefford High Street and is also next to a busy pathway. The church is open 7 days a week and is used by a wide section of the community for a variety of activities.
The Rector, the Revd Veronica Goodman said: “Restoration and repair of the tower, allowing the removal of the scaffolding will give pedestrians safe unrestricted access to the footpath and greatly enhance the appearance of St Michael and All Angels and the centre of this bustling market town in Central Bedfordshire. St Michael’s is well used by the church and community and we are excited about preserving this well-loved historic landmark for generations to come. We are delighted and so encouraged to receive this award from the National Lottery.”
About the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF)
*Grants for Places of Worship applications are assessed in two rounds. A first-round pass is given when HLF has endorsed outline proposals and earmarked funding. A first-round pass may also include an immediate award to fund the development of the project. Detailed proposals are then considered by HLF at second-round and as long as plans have progressed satisfactorily and according to the original proposal, an award for the project is confirmed.
Thanks to National Lottery players, they invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.
You can visit their website at www.hlf.org.uk and follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using
Date: 29th March 2017
Source: Jennifer Forrester