Stonework

As porchnice as it is to see a happy couple emerging from their wedding in such a lovely church, this page is not about weddings, but about the stonework.

You will see that the stone is crumbling, in places it almost appears as if the surface is bubbling.  The stone, which is used for ornamentation and capping, has been identified as Oolitic Limestone from the Jurassic period, probably quarried in the Cotswold region. Many older records refer to the material as being Bath stone, but whether this term was used generally to describe limestone, or whether the those subscribing to the building of the church thought they were getting something other than what the builder actually used is open to speculation! 

Over the years a thin layer of grime has built up on its surface. This grime has a sulphur dioxide content originating in chimney smoke from coal and coke burning fires - surprisingly even a problem in country areas. The sulphur dioxide reacts with water to form a weak sulphurous acid which in turn reacts with the calcium carbonate in the stone. Initially a hard surface layer is formed, but as further reactions occur behind this layer blistering results (a process known technically as exfoliation).

failed stone repairsAt times in the past repair action has been attempted, particularly on the north side of the church, but without lasting success due to incompatible materials being used.  Church records show that some repair work was done in 1978.  The material used appears to be stone dust in a plastic matrix, the records for the next year report that the repairs were already failing.

It took the parish some time to plan a restoration programme, especially as recommendations given varied from "do nothing" to a programme of wholesale stone replacement.  An agreed plan of restoration to the worst affected areas has now been completed.



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