Work has recently completed at the Grade I listed Church of St Mary the Virgin in Hawkesbury, South Gloucestershire. The project, which commenced in autumn 2020, included re-ordering of the tower, comprising the installation of a new ringing chamber and a new belfry, ready for a new ring of eight Italian-cast bells to be installed in May, and external masonry repairs to the 15th century tower.
Internally, the reordering scheme showcases the work of local craftspeople, including a blacksmith, joiners and coppersmith. A new glass screen with decorative copper work and joinery forms the centrepiece of the new ringing chamber and acts as a draught lobby, allowing the west door to remain open and inviting visitors into the church.
The tower of the Hawkesbury church features eleven gargoyles and wonderfully-named ‘hunky punks’ – the west country word for grotesques. These, along with other high level stone carvings, have been repaired by pinning of fractured elements, application of a shelter coat and new lead flashings to improve rainwater dispersal.
Although an extensive programme of masonry repairs were undertaken by the main contractor, Carrek, a ‘light touch’ approach was taken to preserve as much of the patina created by the numerous lichen species as possible. Local lichenographer, Dr David Hill from the British Lichen Society, surveyed the different types present on the tower walls and the churchyard, identifying over 85 species in the churchyard alone.
The work was funded by a series of small grants applied for by the PCC with assistance from Donald Insall Associates, as well as private donations.