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Paul Crosby

A beautiful Victorian church situated on an exposed promontory above Ireleth, St. Peter’s enjoys views out over the Duddon Sands estuary and beyond to the Irish Sea. Its prominent position has its challenges, with the weather hitting the church from the west. The church has a distinctive tower that culminates in four stone gables and a slate covered spire with metal finial. The metal finial fell from the church spire in 2017. Much of the slate work was loose and the supporting stonework in poor condition, with water ingress. The tower previously had cement pointing, further exacerbating the problem.

Mike and Ryan from Shire Homes won the contract in 2018 to repair the timber structure of the spire and re-slate, to stabilize the stonework to the tower with associated leadwork and to undertake isolated raking out and repointing in hot mixed lime mortar. Shire began by making an excellent job of raking out existing cement pointing without unnecessarily damaging the stonework.

Their attention to repointing in a hot mixed lime mortar was impressive, with time taken to stone pin joints properly and push back mortar fully to stop cracking and prepare the surface for the hardship of weathering in this location.

Their team understood the complex layout of the timberwork that builds the spire out of the stone tower and that enabled them to undertake subtle repairs to the structure, stabilizing it in situ without unnecessary disturbance.

The good site relationship we had with Shire allowed our collaborative discussions with their leadworker to create a robust methodology for improving the lead detailing for the guttering to the junction of the spire to the stonework.

This included adding lead protection to the crumbling sandstone coping stones, allowing us to retain stonework that could have been lost with a less informed approach. Ultimately they were a good team that helped make the working process run smoothly and intelligently, even repairing and refitting the fallen metal finial to its former glory.

Paul Crosby, Crosby Granger Architects

St. Peter’s Church, Ireleth