Historic Barnstaple church repaired and reopened

North Devon Gazette

145 years after it was constructed, the imposing tower and gable stonework to Christ Church in the middle of town have just emerged resplendent from behind hoardings after a comprehensive external repairs and repointing contract.Â

Barnstaple Town Council Mayor, councillor Mr Alan Rennles led a small ceremony to celebrate the conclusion of the conservation works to the elevation of the church facing Bear Street.Â

“We had to act,” explained minister reverend Don Macalister, “as there had been a fall of some eroded stone and mortar onto the public pavement below.”Â

It had been many years since the elevation to the street had been scaffolded and when closer inspection was possible, architect David Wilson said: “The erosion in some areas was quite bad and some whole stones had to be cut out and replaced. Luckily our contractor Orchard Stonemasons was able to source Devonian red sandstone and Bath stone, for the details, that were a very good match to the original materials.Â

“The quality of their workmanship and re-pointing has been excellent.’ He added that the works also involved dealing with a collapsed arch at one end of the frontage by building a new stone buttress to give support to the corner. ‘I think it matched in well, and the overall appearance is a real credit to the mason’s skills.”Â

Church Treasurer, Kathy Jeacock, commented: “The project was a huge expense for the church, over £200,000, but one we could not put off as custodians of the building that dates from 1868.”Â

“We were fortunate to be able to add to local church fundraising, grants from: Allchurches Trust Limited, Barnstaple Town Council, Congregational & General Charitable Trust, Devon Historical Churches Trust, Garfield Weston Foundation, Ilfracombe and Barnstaple Methodist Circuit, the Listed Places of Worship VAT Grant scheme, The Trustees for Methodist Church Purposes and the URC South Western Synod, for which we are extremely grateful.Â

“Obtaining planning permission for a listed building, and fundraising, has been a lengthy and sometimes complicated business – my thanks to all involved with this aspect of the project.”Â

Reverend Don expressed his thanks to Mike Orchard and his team for all the hard work on the repairs and to David Wilson and his team for managing the project so well. Mike commented: “It has been a pleasure to work on such a well-loved building at the heart of the town. We hope that the repairs will see the church well for the next 100 years.Â

“We know that this work and the hoarding has been a nuisance to our neighbours in Bear Street and we are very grateful for their patience. We hope that Barnstaple can see this as the church’s investment into the town centre, at a point when it is recovering from extraordinary times.”Â

The church is now open again for worship on Sundays and a number of community activities are starting back in the week, following pandemic guidelines.Â