A new roof emerging at St Swithun’s

01 Oct 2020

Arts Centre Manager at St Swithun's, Hwyel Pontin, gives us an update on the progress of the Regeneration Project.

The Churches Conservation Trust’s work on a National Lottery Heritage Funded, Major Project at St Swithun’s Church, Worcester is progressing well. One of the major pieces of work that needed to be undertaken on the church is now nearing completion.

The red clay tiles of the roof have been in place, and protecting the church from the elements since the building was rebuilt and remodeled in the 1730’s.

However, many tiles are showing their age and have not been performing as they need too. Removal of the tiles is no easy undertaking, especially as St Swithuns’s sits in the heart of Worcester City Centre.

Without this vital work being undertaken the fabric of St Swithun’s would slowly and progressively become compromised and the future existence of the church thrown into doubt.

Looking west at St Swithun’s from the tower of St Martin’s in the Cornmarket, you can see the extent of the protective structure covering the roof space against the City skyline. This essential protective canopy helps ensure that the fabric of the building is protected as the tiles, batons and felt and removed leaving the church open to the elements.

With the tiles removed the internal structure of the roof can be clearly seen for the first time in nearly 300 years. It was discovered that some of the wood used in its construction is of recycled decorative molded timber, probably from the previous church on the site built in the 1500’s.

The distinctive tiles were all made by hand and each one is unique in its coloring and pattern. It is possible, on some of the tiles, to see marks made by those who made the tiles hundreds of years ago. This illustrates our connection and links us to the previous generations associated with the Church.

As each of the tiles on the roof was handmade and have weathered in different ways, it has been a challenge for the design team and contractors to source new tiles that will match and be in keeping with those of St Swithun’s. The mix of original and new tiles have created a wonderful tapestry of colour across the roof span that will last another 300 years, maintaining the unique skyline of the City.

Photos by: Andy Marshall; Simon Wilmshurst; Brian Hoggard