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The Slab Jigsaw

Week 9 – report of work for disabled access, toilet and kitchen – 3rd May – 6th May

Excellent progress has been made on work outside and inside of the church this week. The following has been achieved during this short week due to the Bank Holiday, but Jacko, our village plasterer worked all day on Saturday to skim the inside of the toilet.

✔ Continuing the work on the approach up to the porch from last week, the stone slabs were re-laid in exactly the same order as they were taken up. Work started on laying them down on a bed of mortar to form a slight ramp up to the porch step.

Due to the extreme weight of some of these large pieces of stone, extra hands were needed such that four men were required to take a corner each in order to gently place the slabs in just the right position.

While Jon mixed and barrowed a constant supply of mortar, the slabs were set down, carefully followed by Doug who grouted the joints between each stone.

The last small slab was ceremonially set down by Ian to form the final piece of the jigsaw.

One of the additional tasks to make the path complete was to tie in the existing path up to the graveyard with the new path. Doug laid two small slabs and concreted a joint in the same style as the existing path.

Another consequence of raising the path is the need to also lift the adjoining grass so that it will be the same height as the new path. This will be accomplished with new turf.

A further issue is the consequential reduced height of the wooden bench that is dedicated to Hector Woodward. This will be released from its concrete footings and built up such that the seat is 46cm above the path.

✔ The flaking lime render was removed on the low wall in the porch where the new armoured cable is to be channelled. Once the cable is hidden in the groove, the wall will be re-skimmed with fresh lime mortar.

✔ The new worktops, sink and solid oak kitchen units were delivered on Tuesday and stacked in the church adjacent to the bell tower. The hole for the sink in the longest worktop was already partly cut out to avoid cracking and will need to be completely
removed and the edges finished before assembling the sink underneath.

✔ Meanwhile, inside the church, Derek and John continued with the plumbing. The new water heater was positioned on the corner wall where it will be enclosed in one of the kitchen units. This unit was adapted to accommodate the 45 degree angled wall.

✔ The pipework for the cold water supply to the heater and kitchen sink taps was fitted with all the associated joints and bends. The hot supply and waste was also attached to the wall and fed through to the area behind the toilet. Simultaneously, the water supply and waste to the hand basin in the toilet were fitted. Final wooden linings were fitted to the openings behind the toilet in readiness for plastering.

✔ Sound insulation was cut and fitted between the timbers of the ceiling and walls of the toilet cubicle. The outside walls will be clad in oak faced plywood with solid oak tracery, but only after the plastering has been accomplished.

✔ Saturday saw Jacko from Overend Barn skimming the plasterboard in the toilet cubicle.

It was decided to bury the time capsule in a niche between the toilet and kitchen. This will not hold up progress around the lift well and will mean all evidence of the work, including these weekly reviews, can be included up to the final day.

Access to the church will continue to be closed during next week while internal work continues.

John Pinch
7 May 2022

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Gradients and Gravel

Week 8 – report of work for disabled access, toilet and kitchen 25th April – 29th April

Progress was made both inside and outside of the church this week. The following has been achieved during the five working days of the week:

✔ Having now repositioned the front steps it was clear that all of the stone slabs leading from the gates to the porch will need to be lifted and re-laid higher to accommodate the new landing level by the gate posts and incline slightly up to the porch such that there will be no step to negotiate when entering the porch.

Jon and Doug carefully lifted each stone slab, marked them with a letter and a plan made of their positions so that they could be re-laid in exactly the same order.

Jon and Doug barrowed Type 1 stone chippings from a delivery by the roadside and laid to form a slight gradient up to the porch threshold. A laser was used to confirm the incline angle. The gravel was finally compressed with a vibrating plate before the slabs will be relaid next week.

✔ The remainder of the gravel was deposited on the ramp and again compacted ready for the slabs to be laid on top.

✔ Meanwhile, inside the church, Will inserted a damp proof membrane in the lift well before the sub floor was laid. A laser was used to confirm the precise depth such that reclaimed tiles could be laid to match the existing floor level, on top of a lime screed. A plastic conduit was first positioned adjacent to the existing church wall to carry the electric cables that are necessary for the lift and to take power to the lights on the ramp outside.

Once the mix had cured, Will laid new concrete blocks to form the retaining walls around
the lift enclosure.

✔ Armoured electric cable was threaded through a small, drilled hole in the stone wall adjacent to the steps up to the parvis room, to take the wire through the porch to the outside. The cable will be hidden in a groove cut into the bottom of the wall in the porch and then secured in place with lime mortar. At the same time, the flaking render on the lower walls of the porch will be removed and re-skimmed with lime mortar.

Although not in the original specification, this is one of the additional jobs that will make a tremendous improvement to the fabric and aesthetics of the church. Similar additional work will be undertaken in the kitchen area where the walls are in very poor condition.

Discussions were had regarding the plumbing and supply of hot water to both the kitchen sink and hand basin in the toilet. Derek has kindly agreed to source all the plumbing fittings and we hope to begin the installation next week. The main water heater was fixed in position ready for enclosing in one of the kitchen cupboards that are to be delivered on Tuesday next week.

Jacko, the plasterer who lives in the village, came on Thursday to inspect the plasterboard that Derek and myself had fixed onto the interior of the toilet cubicle stud work. Not being builders by trade, we were both relieved to hear him comment that he had ‘seen much worse’!

Jacko hopes to skim the walls and ceilings next Saturday, after which, the final electrical fix can take place that will include securing the switches, sockets, alarm cord, ventilator and water heater over the basin.

Access to the church will continue to be closed during the week while internal work continues, but evensong will still take place on Sunday.

John Pinch
29 April 2022

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Moving the Steps

Yet more progress was made outside of the church this week. The following has been achieved during the four working days of the week:

✔ The week started with the repositioning of the stone steps to make space for the new disabled ramp.

The two lower steps were fixed in place and the restraining concrete block walls were
constructed before laying the upper treads.

By the end of the week all five treads had been replaced. The original steps had slightly sunk over time such that they were tilting backwards. This had the unfortunate result of holding any rainfall at the back of the treads. Having now repositioned the steps correctly has consequently increased the overall height slightly, causing the top step to be higher
than the path.

The path was to have been raised slightly anyway to form a slight ramp up to the porch entrance, but it has meant that the bottom hinges for the gates will need to be removed and positioned higher.

✔ Meanwhile inside, Derek continued fixing two layers of plasterboard to the rear walls of the toilet cubicle, which will eventually be skimmed with plaster.

✔ Simon Beisly, the electrician, began the first fix this week, which included locating
wiring for the sockets and switches in both the toilet and kitchen areas.

It has been suggested that a time capsule be buried behind the retaining walls around the lift area. Recommendations have been received as to what the capsule should contain.

Access to the church will continue to be closed while internal work continues.

John Pinch
23 April 2022

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A Path on an Arc

This week continues to see real progress outside of the church. The following has been achieved during the four working days of last week:

✔ Concrete was mixed on site and poured into the three spaces between the shuttering that was installed at the end of last week. The three sections are to accommodate the incline, which will form the edging to the disabled ramp.

✔ A more accurate arc was plotted on the new concrete foundations to form the building line for a double wall comprising concrete blocks at the back and solid dressed stone for the facing.

✔ A row of concrete blocks were laid on the curve on top of the concrete that will serve to hold back the earth between the new wall and the existing church boundary wall. More concrete will be poured into the gap after the concrete blocks have cured
to underpin the existing church wall, because the foundations are insignificant.

✔ Dressed Cotswold stone blocks were laid in front of and tied into the concrete blocks to form the final facing of the wall. A small return (corner) was created to finish off the wall where it meets the tarmac path up to Church Cottage.

✔ More clay at the abutment with the road was removed with the digger to provide a wider parking space for a hearse or disabled vehicle. This area will be dug down 20cm lower than the road, and filled with Type One (gravel) to form a base for
tarmac, which will extend the width of the road.

The area inside the back of the church was cleared to provide access for the Easter Sunday service via the west entrance door.

John Pinch
18 April 2022

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The Digger Comes

Week 5 – report of work for disabled access, toilet and kitchen 4th April – 8th April

This week has seen real progress outside of the church. The following has been achieved within the last week:

✔ A digger and dumper truck arrived on site and work started by removing the old tree stump.


✔ Soil and clay were dug out of the left bank, adjacent to the north entrance steps and deposited temporarily in the church field.

✔ The stone steps were loosened and gently transported to rest in the church field until the site is ready to reposition them.

✔ Using a laser, the levels for the ramp were set out prior to construction work. The radius for the ramp was marked out taking into consideration the low walls on each side of the path. At this point, whilst driving in a peg to support the shuttering, Will
discovered yet another drain! This one ran in the direction of Church Farmhouse and was damp, suggesting it is still operational. The covering stones were carefully replaced after inspection and recorded by camera.

✔ A line was set up to mark the gentle slope of the disabled ramp, and surprised us that the gradient was finally recorded at only 1 in 25, where 1 in 12 is the maximum slope. Two horizontal landings were included because there has to be one at the
start of the ramp, and the regulations dictate that a resting place must be included every five metres, hence we have included another halfway up the slope.

✔ Shuttering was set up to form a framework into which concrete will later be poured for the foundations of the low walls. More concrete will be poured behind the low walls to underpin the existing stone wall above. The existing foundations for the church wall are minimal!

✔ The hole under the font was filled-in and re-tiled using four redundant original tiles from the back of the toilet and secured with lime mortar and grouting. The residual cement mortar that was used to fix the font in place will be removed with
brick acid.

✔ Time was spent discussing and designing the plumbing system for the toilet and kitchen and the effect this will have on the studwork and plasterboard behind the toilet. A small cupboard will be included to allow access to the water stop tap. Similarly, the hole in the toilet floor was filled in and re-tiled using lime mortar.

✔ Derek carefully removed the hinges on the internal arched door with the help of an impact driver. It was decided to fit a new lock and door handles once the door is rehung to open in the opposite direction into the church.

✔ Derek, with John in his workshop have made good progress during the week, cutting the oak tongue and groove and gluing together the first of four new gates. Work also continued cutting the mortise and tenon joints on the second gate.

✔ Jon and John collected three sheets of oak faced board at the end of the week, that will be used to clad the outside of the toilet cubicle.

The main entrance to the north of the church remains closed until further notice, due to ground works for the new re-designed disabled ramp.

Access to the church and grounds will be possible via the west entrance adjacent to the Old Parsonage, as well as through the two small footpath gates.

John Pinch
9 April 2022

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Progress inside and out

Week 4 – report of work for disabled access, toilet and kitchen

This week has seen progress both inside and outside of the church. The following has been achieved within the last week:

✔ A connection to the existing water pipe was made in the trench outside, by first isolating the supply at the stop tap in the road.

✔ A new stop tap was positioned where the blue water pipe emerged through the hole in the wall, and above ground level in the toilet area.

✔ An inspection chamber was concreted and installed in the trench above the gas pipe. The ground was filled in around it, leaving just the lid of the inspection chamber visible. The trench arch will be eventually excavated from this position for a
length of 15 metres downhill, passing under the gravel path towards the yew tree. A mechanical digger will be used.

✔ The associated pipes and bends from the back of the toilet and basins was arranged in the corner of the toilet area. Type 1 (gravel) was tipped in the hole with some of the original spoil to a level 100mm below finished inside floor level.
Limecrete will be laid to bring the final level up to 25mm below floor level to enable the floor tiles to be relocated.

✔ Following a second visit from the archaeologist on Monday, more bone specimens were inspected as well as the ancient trench that was discovered in the lift well at the end of last week. Seemingly, it is of no great significance, and so the
ground in the lift area continued to be excavated to a depth of 30cm below the existing threshold tiled floor level and tube covered with a geotextile fabric. More Type 1 was then barrowed and tipped in bringing the level up to 21cm below final
floor level. The gravel was compacted with a vibrating plate, before covering with 12 cm of limecrete.

✔ The walls and ceiling of the toilet cubicle were clad with two layers of plasterboard, but the cavity left for the electrician to do a first fit of the wires and trunking that will happen on 13 April.

✔ The font is to be repositioned adjacent to the column by the new kitchen. The holy water from the font usually exits down into the ground after a christening. However, to save digging a new hole in the church floor, it has been decided to
close off the plug hole in the font and insert a bowl for holding the christening water. Following the service, the water will be scattered in the church grounds.

✔ Derek, with John in his workshop have made good progress during the week, where they are making a new set of oak gates for the re-designed north entrance.

The main entrance to the north of the church will be closed from Tuesday, 5th April until further notice, due to ground works starting for the new re-designed disabled ramp.

Access to the church and grounds will be possible via the west entrance adjacent to the Old Parsonage, as well as the two small footpath gates.

John Pinch
2 April 2022

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Excavations and Finds

Week 3 – report of work for disabled access, toilet and kitchen

Although work has been confined mainly to the inside of the church, we have made significant progress during this third week. The following has been achieved:

✔ With the help of Derek, the pair of us cut some of the mortise and tenon joints that will form the pair of new oak gates for the north entrance.

✔ The font was moved to a temporary position by jacking it up and inserting steel rollers beneath. A 12” square hole was revealed beneath and we have shown the archaeologist the discovery. Some of the stones that were used to fill the void were interesting. One piece, in particular looked like it was carved to form a boss from a vaulted ceiling. Another couple of pieces of stone were dressed and showed signs of soot. My theory is that the roof of the parvis room might have once been stone vaulted before replacing it with a wooden structure and covered in lead. There is still a short chimney stack, indicating that a fireplace was part of the east wall. I believe the small stones we found under the font were redundant parts from this refurbishment. Russell and Roger worked on cleaning up the tiles after moving the font.

✔ Richard Cherrington, the archaeologist also inspected the shallow hole in the corner of the toilet area. Having removed some of the floor tiles and excavated to a depth of approximately .5 metre prior to his arrival, the dig revealed a large flat stone. Whilst Richard monitored the continuation of the dig, we were disappointed to find nothing of any significance beneath.
Digging finally ceased at a depth of 1.2M.

✔ Will, and his two employees Jon and Doug, used machinery to remove the ceramic tiles and limecrete that I laid on the rubble floor over twenty years ago when myself and a team of villagers removed the seven short pews by the bell tower. Fortunately, limecrete is not as difficult to remove as the much harder concrete might have been. An area approximately 3M x 1.4M was dug by hand and the spoil tipped on the grass on the right of the north front approach steps. One or two small pieces of bone were discovered as well as remnants of cut and faced stone that had been previously used for one reason or another.

Digging to a depth of 30cm below existing porch floor level, Will discovered a small flat cut piece of stone. Upon lifting the stone, he discovered a stone trench, or culvert of approximately 25cm square cross-section. Knowing that the porch is the oldest remaining part of the church, and that the floor level of the main section of the church was raised, this culvert would have been just below ground level. However, it is more interesting that it continues on a curve, passing beneath the steps up to the belfry. Hence, it must be rather old. Richard, the archaeologist is anxious to inspect this discovery when he visits again next Monday.

✔ The investigatory trench to locate the water pipe on the south side of the church also served to accommodate the large diamond drilling machine that was needed to drill two holes through the south wall. Confirming my suspicions, the trench finally exposed a water pipe at a depth of over 90cm, having first revealed the gas pipe and a very large clay drain of approximately
20cm diameter. I believe this pipe carries the water from the two downpipes from the south wall gutter to an eventual soak away, somewhere else in the graveyard.

On Friday, the drilling company drilled the two holes through the wall from outside. The first hole is at an external depth of 30cm below ground level to pierce the inside face of the 75cm thick wall in the toilet area, some 1.3M below inside floor level to facilitate the soil pipe for the toilet and basin wastes. This hole will also accommodate the new water pipe, having first connected it to the existing blue water pipe outside, under the gas pipe. A second hole, 12.5cm diameter, was drilled approximately 2M high in the same area for the extractor fan.
Altogether, a very satisfying exercise…
John Pinch

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