The Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Warminghurst, West Sussex

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 chancel barrel vaulted ceiling lath and lime plasterwork. Following reports of snow falling inside the church, the repairs aimed to reinstate the weather tightness of the Horsham stone and clay tile roof coverings and the integrity of the chancel ceiling.

The approach was to retain and secure as far as possible the existing historic fabric and reuse the roof coverings, in particular the Horsham stone slates as there is limited availability of these. Other new materials were chosen to match the existing historic ones. When the roof coverings were removed, it was found that the oak roof members were in very poor condition to the extent that the roof structure was compromised in ways that could not have been identified beforehand. There was a lack of fixity between the rafters and the wall plates. 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 fell down before the works commenced.

As some of the curved braces and some other 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 oak repairs carried out included the careful renewal of the decayed ends to the outer wall plates. These repairs involved removing carefully the decayed timber whilst retaining the rafters above in situ. Having taken careful measurements, the new oak end pieces were prepared, manoeuvred and fixed into position. Finally repairing 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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