St Andrew's Church, Ufford reopens

Medieval St Andrew’s Church at Ufford in Cambridgeshire reopened to the public on Sunday, 5th July, following nine months and half a million pounds worth of repairs to preserve its historic fabric for the future.

The church has been in the care of The Churches Conservation Trust since October 2014, when it became our 346th church, but it required extensive conservation and restoration works, including the re-roofing of the distinctive Collyweston stone roof, repairs to masonry and glazing and conservation of its monuments.

The Grade I listed church is recognised for its late-14th century chancel, which retains its medieval character, and its stunning interior features medieval bench ends, a fine 15th century font with original cover, impressive wall monuments and a series of early-20th century Arts & Crafts stained glass. The tower hosts a cast iron bell frame containing four bells, two of which date from the first half of the 15th century.

Although open days have been held to keep members of the public updated throughout the works, the church has had to remain largely closed whilst the repairs have been carried out, so the formal reopening ceremony was a cause for celebration, with talks from those who have worked on the repair project, followed by tea and cake.

Peter Aiers, Director of The Churches Conservation Trust in the South East, said:

“It was great to have the church open to the public again, following nine months and half a million pounds worth of work by The Churches Conservation Trust. During the project, we’ve hosted regular open days to explain what’s going on, and there has been a keen local interest in the work, but even so it was particularly heartening to see such a strong turnout for the reopening.

“Those who attended seemed pleased with our work, and there were plenty of sign-ups to the volunteer church Friends Group, to help ensure the church remains open and cared for, and so the next chapter of the life of this historic building begins, with the support we have had so far, the future looks very bright. I’m very grateful to everyone who came along to hear about our work at St Andrew’s.”

The replacement of traditional Collyweston stone slates for the roof of the church by contractor Messenger Construction was a particularly important part of the works, as new slates have been rare since quarrying and slates production all but stopped in the 1970s. A new method of production for the slates using a large commercial deep freezer unit has been developed, following two years of manufacturing trials with English Heritage and Sheffield Hallam University, and Messenger Construction has played a key role in further development of the process.

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