Church returns to its full glory after £300k steeple project
Inspection revealed dangerous weathering of the Grade II-listed building
12 December, 2016 — By Gabe Evans
Nicholas Weedon, left, and the Rev Jonathan Brewster at the church
HISTORIC Christ Church, Highbury, has been restored to its full glory as the scaffolding on its spire has finally come down.
Specialist church architect Nicholas Weedon, 54, and his team have been working on the £300,000 project to restore the Victorian steeple, built in 1848, for nearly two years.
“It’s fantastic to see it completely restored,” said the Rev Jonathan Brewster. “We have done our bit to protect it for future generations.”
The project started in early 2015, when stone from the tower began to crumble and fall. Further inspection revealed dangerous weathering of the Grade II-listed building, calling for urgent action.
A grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund ensured of some of the best stonemasons in the country, including Canonbury resident Katherine Worthington, were on board.
The newly restored spire stays true to its heritage, though on closer inspection the craftsmanship of the stonemasons can be detected.
Erosion of many of the carved bosses at the bottom of the tower demanded particularly meticulous work. Using the faint motifs of those that survived, the masons made their own intricate carvings of the original oak leaf foliage into blocks of the soft Bath stone.
“They did some really spectacular work up there,” said Mr Weedon, who intends to enter their efforts into the National Church’s Trust King of Prussia Gold Medal Award for innovative, high quality church conservation or repair work projects.
“It stands as a real beacon in the heart of the Highbury community,” Rev Brewster said. “We are a church that wants to be as inclusive and open as possible, it’s used 24 hours a week and the spire is a significant beacon of hope for people. We are really proud of it.”
The steeple’s success should also be attributed to a dedicated team at the church, including volunteer project coordinator Evelyn Thomas and church warden Michelle Paton, whose work is not complete.
A community engagement project, Highbury Heritage was set up as a requirement for receiving the Heritage Lottery grant.
The team are busy creating an audiovisual resource about the history and heritage of the church and the Highbury area. A visitors’ touchscreen will be available in Christ Church next year.