The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Warminghurst, West Sussex

Following reports of snow falling inside the church, the brief was to repair the chancel, nave and south porch roof members; renew the Horsham stone slate and clay plain tile roof coverings; and repair the lath and lime plasterwork in the chancel barrel vaulted ceiling.

Our approach was to keep and secure the existing historic fabric and reuse the roof coverings as far as possible, particularly the scarce Horsham stone slates. Other new materials were chosen to match the historic ones.

When the roof coverings were removed, the oak roof members were in very poor condition, to the extent that the roof structure was compromised. The rafters and the wall plates were insecurely fixed, there was no bracing in the plane of the roof slopes and no connections to the gable walls. There was decay in and around many of the joints between the oak members, with the oak pegs frequently rotten or missing. Part of the chancel ceiling collapsed before the works commenced.

As some of the curved braces and members were at risk of falling out of position, we checked the roof structure on a regular basis and ensured that the loose joints were held temporarily with webbing straps.

At the peak of the oak repairs, we had up to 12 carpenters on site. Some of the many examples of their work included the renewal of the decayed ends to the outer wall plates. These repairs involved carefully removing the decayed timber whilst retaining the rafters above in-situ. Having taken measurements, the new oak end pieces were prepared, manoeuvred, and fixed into position. Finally, we repaired the undersides of the chancel roof members to form the line for the barrel vault for the new softwood laths and lime plaster.

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