INSPECTION OF CHURCHES MEASURE 1955 (AS AMENDED)
REPORT ON QUINQUENNIAL INSPECTION
Church: Hollingbourne, All Saints
Survey by: Robert George ARB AABC
Date: 1 May 2012
Previous survey by: Robert George
This report assumes the church to be orientated.
PART ONE PRELIMINARY INFORMATION
Terms of Reference
1.1 My survey has been carried out and this report prepared in accordance with the recommendations published by the Council for the Care of Churches in ‘ A Guide to Church Inspection and Repair’ 1995.
“The inspection of the church is to be visual, and such as can be made from ground level, ladders and any readily accessible roofs, galleries or stagings, and only selected areas are to be examined in detail; parts of the structure which are inaccessible, enclosed or covered, are not normally to be opened up unless specifically requested. The inspection is to include, so far as practicable, all features of the building covering all aspects of conservation and repair”.
1.2 The fabric dates from the C13 when it comprised the conventional arrangement of nave, chancel, west tower and north and south aisles. The Culpeper Chapel was added at the east end of the north aisle in the C18 and the vestry, at the east end of the south aisle in the C19.
1.3 The church is situated in a rural location
1.4 The church is listed Grade I and is within the Hollingbourne Conservation Area.
1.5 The lay rector for the chancel is Canterbury Cathedral
1.6 Off-road parking for six or so cars is available immediately outside the churchyard.
1.7 The church has a seating capacity for a congregation of at about 200 .
1.8 The church has electrical, foul drainage and water supplies.
Works carried out over the quinquennium
1.9 The lighting installation has been comprehensively renewed by
WS Parsons Ltd
Disability Discrimination Act
1.10 Access to the church, via the lychgate and to the north porch is
level and unencumbered. There are shallow steps through the porch which are easily addressed with a removable ramp.
1.11 It would be desirable to improve external lighting to this access
1.12 The WC does not fully conform with the recommended dimensions and provisions set out under Part M, Building Regulations.
1.13 The new lighting installation is fully compliant.
1.14 The church is provided with a hearing loop.
Summary of Condition
1.15 The fabric of All Saints is generally in very sound condition. There
are a number of minor repairs requiring early attention but hardly amounting to a significant investment. The greatest concern is with the parapet gutter around the vestry block but this can be managed in the medium term with careful maintenance. The new lighting installation has greatly improved the internal presentation but highlights the desirability of redecorating throughout the nave and aisles.
PART TWO CONDITION OF STRUCTURE
Pitched roof slopes
Kent peg tiles in fair condition. Half a dozen broken tiles noted to north slope and a similar number to the south slope. There is no immediate need for overhaul but condition must be monitored.
Kent peg tiles, thoroughly restored ten years ago and remaining in excellent condition.
This is an awkwardly arranged roof with a number of detail weaknesses including its hips, which are mitred with lead soakers rather than conventional bonnet tiles and the arrangement of its abutments to the nave and aisle slopes. Inspection and maintenance is hindered by the narrowness of its encircling parapet gutter.
2.4 The roof is encircled to south, east and west by an asphalt lined parapet gutter. This was found to be deeply silted up, as it had been at my previous inspection, and the penetrating roots then noted along south side have flourished. It appears certain the gutter is incapable of discharging intensive rain which will be finding its way into the fabric (see 2.30). This threat would be alleviated with careful regular clearance but a thoroughgoing redesign of the arrangement is the only route to a reliable long term solution.
2.5 North Porch
The vegetation of these tiled slopes noted in my previous Report has developed with ferns rooted in the west slope. What little can now be seen of the actual tiling appears decayed whilst the internal porch ceiling may be concealing severe incipient water penetration. I recommend that these slopes be wholly stripped and retiled.
The tower roof is covered in lead with a central east/west ridge falling to parapet gutters to north and south each with central sump outlets discharging through projecting lead shoots. The lead work is in good condition but the gutters were heavily silted at the time of my inspection, to the extent of blocking the outlets. It is important that these be frequently checked and cleared.
2.7 Access onto the tower roof is through a weather boarded binnacle. The lower boards have come adrift which provides free access into the tower for birds and repair is urgently required.
2.8 A former flag staff with the remnants of its stays lies across the roof. This should either by securely re-erected or removed.
2.9 Aisles and Culpeper Chapel
These roofs have been covered in Steelex; stainless steel strips with standing welts. All are in sound condition with no deterioration noted since my last inspection.
The Culpeper roof is provided with standing vents and falls to a lead lined parapet gutter along the north side. This was found deeply silted with choked outlets.
2.10 Schedule of urgent roof maintenance and repairs
i) Clear all parapet and back gutters. It was reported that this was normally carried out every two years. I advise that this should be upgraded to at least an annual exercise and that the particularly vulnerable parapet gutter around the vestry should be kept constantly clear.
ii) The lead flashing at the abutment of the north nave slope to the tower requires sealing and possibly some replacement.
iii) The lead flashing at the base of the step between nave and chancel south slopes has come adrift and requires refixing/replacement.
iv) There is a loose section of lead apron flashing at the west end of the south nave/aisle verge.
v) One loose coping stone was noted to the crenulations around the Culpeper parapet. All should be checked and secured as necessary by rebedding and st/steel dowels.
2.11 Rainwater goods are in mill finish, cast aluminium throughout. This has proved durable and maintenance free. All appears in good condition.
2.12 With the exception of that serving the south chancel slope all down pipes discharge over gullies and thence, presumably, to soakaways.
The ground gutter arrangement is vestigial and overgrown and would certainly be inadequate in discharging surface water away from the fabric if required to do so. However there is little significant evidence for internal damp penetration given the nature of the fabric and in general I advise to leave ‘well alone’.
2.13 The significant exception to the above is drainage to the south chancel slope down pipe. This was blocked at my inspection with water standing in the eaves gutter. A damp patch has manifested internally in the south east corner of the sanctuary suggesting that this down pipe has no drain connection. This needs to be determined by initial excavation as a matter of urgency. Provision of effective drainage will need to be carefully designed and may well have an archaeological impact.
2.14 No evidence was noted to suggest significant ongoing structural movement.
2.15 Masonry is generally in rag stone rubble with dressed rag stone quoins and dressings. A few traces remain of ‘harling’ i.e. the rough cast render with which the whole exterior would originally have been treated.
Clearly much restoration was carried out in the major 1970’s project and especially around the window frames, the closer one looks the more can be seen of ‘plastic’ repair. There are two aspects of this work which are regrettable; firstly the lead sheathing of the tower drip moulds and secondly the crude cementitious re-pointing of the upper tower stages. Neither have structural implications.
There is significant spalling and cracking around the frames of the frame of the belfry louvers. The defect does not presently warrant the extensive scaffold necessary for repairs but its condition should be monitored.
Whilst one can always find voids and decay in masonry of this age, the general condition is very fair and no significant treatment is identified as desirable over the quinquennium except where access is in place for other purposes.
Glazing, ferramenta and louvers
2.16 Glazing is in leaded lights throughout. The majority is in fine Victorian stained glass, all of which appears to be in good condition. Plain/tinted glazing predominates in the north aisle and west end windows and this is in less good condition. In particular the glass to the west window of the south aisle, W13, is severely buckled with evidence of makeshift repairs. This requires rebuilding and it is recommended that a glazier’s report be made on all glazing.
2.17 Ferramenta is generally provided with internal steel saddle bars; these are slightly corroded and ideally should be replaced in non-ferrous material. External ferramenta are limited to W9 and W7, the former in good condition but W7 is covered by the stone guards and appears in need, at least of decoration and possibly of removal and overhaul.
2.18 There is a large spall in the external face of a mullion to window W5 which should be pieced in.
2.19 Various windows have been provided with galvanised stone guards and W5, to the Culpeper Chapel has a sheet of polycarbonate protecting a reset stained glass panel. These guards are not consistent in their protection of the important glazing whilst their materials are considered to detract from the presentation of the church.
2.20 The belfry louvers could not be closely inspected but from what could be made out they are flimsy, in poor condition and it is surprising that birds have not already colonised. Thorough overhaul/replacement is required. At the same time a close inspection should be made to timber frame of the little window W14 on the south side of the tower.
There is no tower arch and the tower is entered from the nave through a medieval door. The base has been reordered with a range of domestic kitchen units along the north side and on the south side a lobby leading to the tower stairs and a WC. The WC purports to be ‘accessible’ but does not comply with the full requirements for such a facility.
A mezzanine surmounts the WC enclosure providing some storage space and here are parked the historic Lord’s Prayer and Creed panels which deserve better treatment.
2.22 Ringing Chamber
The chamber is well presented but there has been considerable wet rot in the match boarded wainscote, most obviously along the south wall. I believe the cause to be historic and it might be simpler to remove the wainscote than to repair it.
2.23 Bell chamber