Restoration Work

 

One of the aims of the Friends of Hamsey when it was set up in 2016 was to address the most significant problems with the church, as identified in the architect’s quinquennial inspection that year, where the main concern boiled down to damp problems.  The following was identified.

 

The roof.  Whilst this was largely watertight, the Horsham Stone on the lower half of the roof was loose and slipping, and so dangerous.  Many of the handmade clay tiles were also badly deteriorated.  With the assistance of a government Listed Place of Worship Roof Grant, in 2017 the roof was stripped and re-laid.  All the reusable tiles were placed on the south, road facing side, whilst new equivalent tiles were placed on the north side.  The work revealed serious failings in the timber connections to the wall plates.  These were made good under the guidance of a structural engineer.

The project received two Sussex Heritage Trust Awards.  The Ecclesiastical Award where the judges commented: “A thoroughly considered approach to the project, demonstrating detailed knowledge of materials, new and reused.  A collaborative approach with architect and client which successfully tackled issues that arose.  Finished job enhanced an already beautiful building.”  And the Building Craft Award: “Well-executed roof restoration done to high standard with imaginative re-use of clay tiles and Horsham slates which will improve sustainability, combined with sensitive and effective treatment of critical works to establish the structural integrity of the building.  Well done!”

 

Render replacement.  The render on the south walls of the nave and chancel had failed in may places and had been badly repaired with cement in others, leading to damp in the walls.  Investigations were required to understand whether the render was original or covering stonework that had been exposed (found not to be the case) and to analyse the original composition.  In 2021 it was stripped and replaced, exposing some of the stonework to match the north walls (where the render is in better condition).  The stonework of an original window was revealed during the work and has been left exposed.

 

Leaking windows.  The structure of a number of windows had failed, lading to leaks.  Early in 2022 these were removed, reconstructed and are now in the process of being replaced.  Two ‘hoppers’ have been included to improve ventilation.

 

Repainting.  This is planned next; however, first the walls need to dry out.  Moreover, extensive investigations confirmed traces of wall paintings beneath the existing paintwork.  Whilst these are not complete enough to expose and display, they will need to be protected by a special painting system.

 

Tower stonework.  The tower stonework needs attention as does its pointing, where cement has been used for repairs instead of the correct lime mortar.  This work is also outstanding.

 

Quinquennial Inspection.  Due this year (in fact late), this will reconfirm the way forward. 

 

Funding.  Fund raising needs to continue to cover the last of these works.  We will also be looking for grants to supplement this.

 

Andrew Featherstone

Hamsey Churchyard – an update

 

A new management plan was introduced towards the end of 2020 with a view to encouraging the rich plant life while maintaining the integrity of the graveyard. During the year, weather conditions meant more growth than usual. Some of the planned work was not carried out. At the Open Day (Hamsey in Bloom) in July, the churchyard was a riot of colour but many graves became difficult to get to or even to find. Although the scheme was publicised, there was nothing in the churchyard itself to explain the plan. 

As the Rev Anne Dunlop, parish priest, said: “We have learned a lot from this first year.”

Constructive comments from various visitors and friends of Hamsey church suggested changes, especially in the management of the East graveyard where the modern graves are found. The Parochial Church Council accept responsibility for the churchyard. They are determined to get the management scheme right; to see it is properly implemented; and to make sure people are kept informed. 

A revised management plan will be considered by the PCC at its next meeting and more information will be available shortly. The Friends have recommended that the revised plan should include the following:

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

The churchyard is a place where loved ones are laid to rest and is also a valuable sanctuary for endangered wild flowers and other wildlife. So our aims will be:

  1. To maintain a burial ground attractive to relatives, parishioners and other visitors
  2. To encourage and maintain the diverse species found in the churchyard, providing food and shelter for pollinating insects, birds and other wildlife.

Nick Lear

Chairman of the Friends of Hamsey Church

4th October 2021

 

 

 
 

ST PETER’S HAMSEY RESTORATION WORKS

 

The Church

 

The Grade I Listed Norman Church of Hamsey is one of Sussex’s most interesting small churches. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, it is perched on a small hill in the Ouse Valley and enjoys a spectacular and prominent position. When a larger church was needed, the Victorians built St Peter’s at Offham but left Hamsey standing and unmodernised, which means, almost uniquely, it retains its medieval character. The nave and chancel are 12th century; the tower, 14th century; there is a 15th century limestone font, 16th century pews and fragments of wall paintings from the early 1600s. Without electricity or gas, Hamsey has a quiet elegance and serenity that is appreciated by many visitors and worshippers, with services held in the summer and at Christmas.

A key aim of the Friends of Hamsey is the restoration of this unique church.  An inspection of the church highlighted a growing damp problem due to a number of causes, which are being addressed in a phased manner, as funds allow.

 

Phase 1 – Completed – The Nave Roof

The most urgent need was to re-slate the Horsham Stone and clay tile nave roof.  Not only were many of the tiles cracked and damaged, pieces of stone and lime mortar bedding were falling off the roof slopes.  This was addressed in 2017.  As far as possible the original stone and tiles were used, and the south (road facing) side was re-laid entirely in original tiles, with new handmade ones used on the north face.  The roofing work revealed serious failures in the roof structure itself, which were also rectified.  

Phase 1 costs were some £63,000.  Half of this was covered by a grant from the government LPOW Roof Repair Fund and the rest from donations and funds raised by the Friends.

 

Phase 2 – In Hand – Replacement of External Render and Reglazing of Windows

These works cover the replacement of the failed render on the south nave, chancel and porch walls, the repair of stonework on the east wall and the reglazing of several leaking windows. Work started on the render and stonework towards the end of August and is ongoing. The replacement render will be sufficient to protect and stabilise the walls whilst leaving flints partially exposed.
The removal of render has exposed various stone features in the walls. This includes quoin stones which appear to have been reused when the 12th century chancel was extended eastwards in the 14th century, and a 12th century window on the south side of the nave to the east of the porch which is very similar to the 12th century window on the north side of the chancel. This window features inscribed curves on the top arch stone and is obviously of considerable archaeological interest. Other stones have also been revealed and we intend to leave these exposed in the re rendering work.
The south face of the porch around the main entrance door is constructed at lower levels of knapped and squared flints which were obviously meant to be seen. This area will be repointed to expose the faces of the flint.
 

Phase 2 costs are estimated at £43,000 (excluding VAT which will be recoverable).  £15,000 of this will come from donations and funds raised by the Friends (£5,000 of this has already been spent on investigations, etc) and the rest from a generous grant from a local family trust.

 

Phase 3 – Fund Raising – Tower Repointing and Stonework Repairs, Internal Redecorating

The tower suffers both from failed pointing and also from previous replacement pointing  made in non-breathable cement mortar, rather than the correct lime mortar, as used in the original construction.  This must be replaced and some of the stonework repaired.  With the damp issues hopefully largely addressed it will then be possible to go ahead with internal redecorating.  This itself will need to be tightly controlled so as not to disturb fragments of wall paintings.

Phase 3 costs (excluding VAT) are expected to be some £50,000 and these funds must be secured before we can go ahead with the work.

 

Restoration Work

 

One of the aims of the Friends of Hamsey when it was set up in 2016 was to address the most significant problems with the church, as identified in the architect’s quinquennial inspection that year, where the main concern boiled down to damp problems.  The following was identified.

 

The roof.  Whilst this was largely watertight, the Horsham Stone on the lower half of the roof was loose and slipping, and so dangerous.  Many of the handmade clay tiles were also badly deteriorated.  With the assistance of a government Listed Place of Worship Roof Grant, in 2017 the roof was stripped and re-laid.  All the reusable tiles were placed on the south, road facing side, whilst new equivalent tiles were placed on the north side.  The work revealed serious failings in the timber connections to the wall plates.  These were made good under the guidance of a structural engineer.

The project received two Sussex Heritage Trust Awards.  The Ecclesiastical Award where the judges commented: “A thoroughly considered approach to the project, demonstrating detailed knowledge of materials, new and reused.  A collaborative approach with architect and client which successfully tackled issues that arose.  Finished job enhanced an already beautiful building.”  And the Building Craft Award: “Well-executed roof restoration done to high standard with imaginative re-use of clay tiles and Horsham slates which will improve sustainability, combined with sensitive and effective treatment of critical works to establish the structural integrity of the building.  Well done!”

 

Render replacement.  The render on the south walls of the nave and chancel had failed in may places and had been badly repaired with cement in others, leading to damp in the walls.  Investigations were required to understand whether the render was original or covering stonework that had been exposed (found not to be the case) and to analyse the original composition.  In 2021 it was stripped and replaced, exposing some of the stonework to match the north walls (where the render is in better condition).  The stonework of an original window was revealed during the work and has been left exposed.

 

Leaking windows.  The structure of a number of windows had failed, lading to leaks.  Early in 2022 these were removed, reconstructed and are now in the process of being replaced.  Two ‘hoppers’ have been included to improve ventilation.

 

Repainting.  This is planned next; however, first the walls need to dry out.  Moreover, extensive investigations confirmed traces of wall paintings beneath the existing paintwork.  Whilst these are not complete enough to expose and display, they will need to be protected by a special painting system.

 

Tower stonework.  The tower stonework needs attention as does its pointing, where cement has been used for repairs instead of the correct lime mortar.  This work is also outstanding.

 

Quinquennial Inspection.  Due this year (in fact late), this will reconfirm the way forward. 

 

Funding.  Fund raising needs to continue to cover the last of these works.  We will also be looking for grants to supplement this.

News

Following our WW1 Commemoration in June 2019 which raised £1000 we have received some very generous donations and the Fund Raising Account now stands at nearly £22,000. Much more will be needed for the future works, but the funds we are raising will hopefully put us in a good position to obtain grants to cover a substantial portion of the cost.

 

Church openings 2019

 

We would like to thank all the volunteers who have enabled the church to be open for visitors this year. It has been very encouraging to see the number of visitors to the church since the regular openings. From January to November there were 262 entries in the visitors book with people coming from as far away as USA and New Zealand! Thank you all for your generous donations. Please come back and bring your friends and do remember to sign the visitors book, even if it is not your first visit!

Booklets and postcards are available for sale and there is a folder containing information on the graveyards and monuments within the church.

Hamsey Church is popular for weddings and baptisms.

To arrange a wedding or baptism please contact the churchwarden via the following link:

http://www.offhamandhamsey.org/about-us

 

 

Below are events held in 2020

 

ART WAVE COMES TO HAMSEY

Local artist Keith Pettit held an exhibition at Hamsey church as part of the Lewes Art Wave festival. The exhibition was held over 3 weekends from 5th to the 20th September, 11am to 5 pm.

He is very generously giving a percentage of his proceeds to the Friends which is so kind of him.

 

 

Below are events held in 2019

 

We would like to thank all who came and supported the Open Day at Hamsey Church on 6th July. We are pleased to announce that the sum of £550 was raised and added to the Restoration Fund. 

 

Below are events held in 2018

We would like to thank all who came and supported the WW1 Commemoration at Hamsey Church on 9th June. We are pleased to announce that the sum of £1,103 was raised and added to the Restoration Fund.

 

June 8th - Judge Michael Kennedy’s group sang compline.  The group were at the church from 7.00pm for a rehearsal to which anyone was invited and then the Office of Compline commenced at 8.00pm and lasted for about 30 minutes.  After that, the group enjoyed strawberries and a glass of wine. Compline was traditionally the final service of the day and takes the form of beautiful chants sung in Latin. This was a haunting sound in the church on a perfect June evening.

 

June 10th  at 6.00pm, the first of two summer concerts by the Musicians of All Saints Lewes took place. For further details check out www.mas-lewes.co.uk

 

June 17th, 6.00pm The Second Concert by the Musicians of All Saints Lewes.

 

 

Below are events held in 2017

Friends of Hamsey © 2016