What is wrong with the South Aisle roof?

The South Aisle roof at All Saints' is thought to have last been recovered in lead at the end of the 19 century / early 20 century. There is evidence of repairs having been carried out since 2012.
During periods of rain, water runs through cracks in the lead and through areas where the mortar sealing it into the stonwork has fallen away. The moisture soaks into the wooden beams supporting of the roof and will allow rot to become established, so weakening the whole structure. In periods of heavy rain the water drips onto the pews below.

Doesn't lead last for ever?

In common with other metals lead suffers from fatigue when continually subjected to small stresses and strains that stretch the metal before releasing it to return to its original state. These changes are small and don’t cause immediate problems, but over time they find weak spots deep within the metals molecular structure. Minute cracks are formed and continue to grow, little by little,, unit they break through the surface, allowing rainwater to seep through to the structure beneath. The small stresses and strains in the South Aisle roof are caused by expansion as the sun’s rays heat the roof every day of the year and contraction as it cools in the evening. Facing south it is subjected to greater temerature changes than others sections of All Saints' roof.

Recently cracks have been repaired by welding. Unfortunately, although giving immediate respite the repair welds themselves are susceptable to small imperfections providing the weak spots that allow new cracks to develop.

Lead expands up to four times more than stonework, so each day, although subject to the same temperature changes extra forces try to pull the lead sheets away from the stonework. This has resulted in sections of the mortar pointing holding the lead in place to work loose, giving rainwater another point of entry.

Why replace with expensive lead?

The unique properties of lead have established its use as a building material since Roman times.

  • Its malleability means it can be moved and moulded into a variety of shapes.

  • It is recyclable, once an old roof has no life left in it the material can be recycled. Today more lead is recycled than newly mined.

  • Aesthetically it offers a certain understated beauty.

  • Its weather-resistance provide protection against precipitation and UV rays.

  • It is proven to be long lasting and can provide adequate protection for 200 years

Because of its resistance to corrosion and ease with which it can be worked, churches throughout history have used lead for their roofing. The malleability of lead is perfect for their hidden gutters and valleys and it suits these ancient buildings with their complex structures well. At one time there was no viable alternative. Today modern materials can be considered, but they do not always provide a cost effective solution. Many churches are Listed Buildings, required to be maintained in such a way that their original designs are respected. The Church of England operates a "Faculty" process to to evaluate repairs and alterations to listed buildings that removes the need to obtain local authority listed building consent. There is a strong preference to the use of traditional materials, particularly where the work is visible to the public, as is the case with All Saints' south aisle.

Following theft of the original lead sheets the North side of All Saints' Nave has been resheeted with a coated steel material.This roof section is not readily visible from the public highway. The congregation are aware that the steel roof does not deaden the noise of heavy rain as well as lead .

Why include a 10% contingency?

The quinquennial inspection was restricted to a visual assessment of the outside surface only. Since the roof has been leaking for some time there is a strong possibility that timbers have already started to rot and would need replacing . In addition the architect has advised it would be prudent to replace gutter lining timbers.
We anticipate that we will require a long period of fund raising before work can start. It is expected that costs will rise during this period.

Why seek external funds, doesn't the C of E maintain All Saints?

The Church Commisioners, the Church of England's property arm, are often quoted as being extremely wealthy and people ask why doesn't it spend more on building maintenance. The land and property owned by the Commisioners is used as the pension fund for retired clergy and decisions about what to invest in are driven largely by hard-nosed financial calculation and fiduciary duty. The Commisioners contribute significantly to the upkeep of cathedrals.Legally the ownership of parish churches is not clear. It is normal for the freehold to be held by the incumbent in trust for the PCC. The local congregation are expected to contribute towards the incumbent's salary and to maintain their building.
The ever decreasing congregation of All Saints need an income of close to £15,000 a year to meet day to day running costs and the Parish Share paid to the diocese as a contribution towards the incumbents salary. For many years recently there has been no surplus for building maintenance.
The parish church can be seen as more than merely a place of worship for a few committed Christians. It is a landmark that identifies the village. Built centuries ago by skilled craftsmen demonstrating and containing significant symbols of the nation’s heritage. The internal space has the potential to be a centre for community activities. We may not all worship regularly, but many agree that loss of this beautiful building would be a significant loss to the village.