Rain finally takes a toll on St Swithun's

Meriel O'Dowd, Conservation Projects Manager in our West region, writes...

Grade I-listed St Swithun’s Church in the heart of Worcester’s city centre is a Georgian gem in a city renowned for its Georgian architecture.  Considered one of the most complete early Georgian churches in England, its airy interior is packed with original features, including a decorative plaster ceiling, box pews, gilded triple-decker pulpit and mayor's chair with sword rest. The canted West gallery supports the magnificent 18th-century Gray Brothers’ organ, also Grade I-listed.

Despite seeming in excellent condition at first glance, closer investigation tells a very different story. The rib-vaulted roof and earlier medieval tower are in desperate need of repair work and the interior is showing significant signs of water damage.

The cause is centuries of wear and tear to the roof lead and slates and the extraordinary omission of nibs - small hooks that hold plaster ceilings in place - in the original construction of the ceiling.

The photos below, taken just a few days ago, show the extent of the damage after recent heavy rain. The building’s conservation and repair needs must be addressed urgently to avoid further, catastrophic damage.

St Swithun's Worcester

The church has hosted a series of music and arts events in recent years and, with the help of Heritage Lottery Fund, we intend to build on this to secure the long-term future of St Swithun’s as a centre for sound and art.

Together with the Friends of St Swithun’s we’ve raised £349,383 to date for repair work. We need to raise another £255,500 before we can apply to Heritage for the bulk of the full cost - £1,446,000.00 - in March 2017. If the bid is successful, work will start in 2018, with a planned re-opening date in spring 2019.

The conservation work will include:

  • re-tile the roof, preserving the beautiful arched ceiling from further damage;
  • address the lack of nibs on the plaster ceiling;
  • undertake stone conservation to repair and clean the limestone elevations, allowing the building to shine;
  • support and collaborate with emerging talent, giving new artists a creative space for performances and exhibiting work;
  • create craft skills apprenticeships and traineeships, opening up employment opportunities in the heritage sector for students and job seekers;
  • offer a diverse events programme to attract new audiences;
  • address the lack of nibs on the plaster ceiling;
  • undertake stone conservation to repair and clean the limestone elevations, allowing the building to shine;
  • support and collaborate with emerging talent, giving new artists a creative space for performances and exhibiting work;
  • create craft skills apprenticeships and traineeships, opening up employment opportunities in the heritage sector for students and job seekers;
  • offer a diverse events programme to attract new audiences.

Meriel O’Dowd - Conservations Projects Manager

If you would like to help us save this extraordinary piece of history please donate now via the button below. Alternatively call 0800 206 1463 or send a cheque payable to The Churches Conservation Trust to Society Building, 8 All Saints St, London N1 9RL.

 

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