#buildingconservation

The Importance of Detail – Michaels and All Angels Church, Howarth

Today we are visiting a project we have completed, but serves well to illustrate what Aura Conservation can achieve in difficult circumstances.

The current church building was constructed in 1879 although the base of the tower dates back to the sixteenth century. It is a Grade II* listed building and of worldwide historical interest and importance due to the Bronte family connection.

The Church occupies an exposed hillside position at the top of the beautiful Haworth village just off Main Street, via a cobbled path. The surrounding buildings are villager’s homes and businesses with only cobbled pathways and one narrow road offering limited access to the church posing logistical constraints during the project.

The church was awarded a repair grant under the English Heritage / HLF Repair Grant Scheme for Historic Places of Worship.

During the spring of 2015 Aura Conservation began work to repair the south facing roof of the church in hand selected Green Honister slate using traditional building techniques. The slates were quarried then individually holed, sorted and re-palletised in manageable sized packs before returning to site for installation. Additionally, the copings were bedded in using lime mortar. Lime rendering was also carried out to small areas of internal and external stonework.

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The reinstatement of the missing stone pinnacles at the top of the tower involved the fixing of hand carved/tooled pinnacles. The pinnacles were caved in Yorkshire Sandstone to match the existing profile. Finally, the pinnacles were dowelled and cramped with selected stainless steel fixings. The project was successfully completed, ensuring throughout that environmental impacts where reduced to a minimum to ensure no disruption was posed to the delicate historic area.

Key challenges which we overcame on the project include;

  • Highly complexed roof structure requiring traditional repairs. We ensured that we appointed our most experienced and (heritage) skilled workforce to the project whom remained on site for the entire duration, all of which are specialist traditional craftsmen.
  • Requirement of traditional materials including lime render, Honister slate, Yorkshire sandstone and NHL lime mortars. As Aura specialise in heritage work we already had very strong pre-existing relationships with local traditional material suppliers and with quarries ensuring that suppliers committed to the project and the procurement process ran smoothly.
  • Location of the project in a prominent hillside position posed adverse weather conditions. These were overcome by fitting scaffold with sheeting for protection and by working to a tighter programme and increasing labour during the drier months.
  • Logistical challenges due to cobbled street access to the church meant that deliveries of stone etc were made nearby and transported to site by Aura using trollys.

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Despite the challenges (which Aura are more than familiar with specialising in Church and heritage work) Aura delivered a high quality finished project within programme and within budget with stunning results.

 

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