The Flamstead Heritage campaign has been set up to save our beautiful 12th century village church from closure. Damp and deathwatch beetle have affected the roof timbers because the windows and walls are not weatherproof. Temporary repairs have now been made while we raise money to replace the outer roof, fix the timbers and restore the leaking windows. This website tells the story of our campaign to save St Leonard’s…
First, we needed to find out how serious things were. Using a birdcage scaffold, the architects, structural engineer, wood rot specialist and quantity surveyor were able to get up close to the medieval timbers. This gave a fascinating glimpse of the way the roof is put together, and enabled a detailed survey to be done.
The massive oak beams which support the roof last received major attention in 1691. Then, sections of rafters could just be taken out a refitted with new timber. Now, we need to conserve the original materials where possible due to the Grade I listing.
To make sure the roof stays safe while we raise funds, some short-term supports have been added to help transfer the weight of the spine of the roof onto the massive cross-beams as shown.
The spine timbers have been weakened by deathwatch beetle, and the ends of some of the rafters have been eaten away. The outer copper roof is also now end-of-life and letting in water.
With funding, we can repair the timbers, replace the outer roof, and remove cement around the rafter ends so they can breathe.
To make the building fully weatherproof, we need to remove GRP facings which were attached to the top row “clerestory” windows in the 1960s. The windows can then be rebuilt in stone.
Cement rendering will be replaced by lime mortar so that the walls can “breathe”. The downpipes will be upgraded to cope with dispersing storm water away from the building.
All of this will help to dry out the environment inside the church.
Eliminating damp will protect the wall paintings which have survived in some cases since the 13th century. This important series of paintings can be conserved and restored once the moisture levels in the church have been reduced.
Restoring the “environmental envelope” of the building will protect the medieval murals, as well as ensuring that the roof timbers are no longer under prone to attack from beetle or rot.
Our approach to funders including Heritage Lottery will present a vision for transformation of the way the church as a building serves the wider local community, as indeed it was designed to do when first built. Arts and culture, social events and opportunities to learn more about the heritage treasures are all on the plan. We are really excited by this vision, and you can learn more about it on our vision page.