Building work underway on the tower in East Anstey

After years of fund-raising, the local PCC is delighted to have been awarded a major National Lottery grant which has meant that the much needed restoration work on the ancient church tower could be started in earnest.  The small parish church of St Michael’s dates back to Norman times and last underwent a major renovation in the Victorian era when much of it was rebuilt by Edward Ashworth, a famous church architect of the time, who was born locally in Chulmleigh.

Initially the architect, from Benjamin + Beauchamp, descended the tower face with the contractor to check the extent of the works required. The inspection identified a number of additional stone inserts required and an equal reduction in the extent of the mortar repairs needed but, in general, the condition (and required works) was a close match to the tendered drawings.

Scaffolding was erected in May and the works are now progressing well with the re-pointing having been completed to a very high standard. Currently the parapets are being restored using helibars to “stitch” the stonework and prevent any future movement. The west window, the oldest in the building, has been completely restored and will be re-installed once new stone indents in the window surrounds have been completed.

The tower houses 6 bells including one, perhaps the oldest in Devon, cast around 1450 with the inscription “Voce mea viva depello cunta nociva”  (with my lively voice I drive away all hurtful things).  Skilled work is underway on the re-soling and re-shrouding of the wheels of the front five bells and major work is about to start on the bell framework and supporting corbels. In addition, the main beam to the roof is to be strengthened and, once completed, the lead roof can be re-laid.

The restoration project is supported by a £165,200 National Lottery grant awarded by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

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