PCA Consulting Engineers in conjunction with Jonathan Rhind Architects were highly commended by RICS for their repairs to the Bell Tower at St Mary’s Church, High Bickington.
Director Paul Carpenter worked closely with Jonathan Rhind Associates to provide structural solutions to the crumbling Bell Tower. St. Mary’s Church is a Grade I Listed building with the carved rounded arches of the south doorway dating back to the 12th Century and intricate wood carvings from the 15th and 16th Century found on the bench ends.
The Church sits high up in the landscape leaving the 15th Century Bell Tower exposed to the harsh elements. Quinquennial reports over the last 15 years had identified loose stones and cracks opening up on the tower buttresses, allowing rainwater to penetrate through the missing stonework. The area beneath the tower was cordoned off for over 5 years and bell ringing in the tower ceased due to falling stones and the vibrations loosening the stonework.
The Parish were granted EH/HLF funding to repair the tower and work began in earnest. A cherry picker was used to access the tower to carry out a close inspection before a detailed method of repair was drawn up by JRA.
The buttresses were taken apart stone by stone, each one carefully mapped to ensure they went back in the correct place. Any fractured and delaminated stones were replaced with ones of a similar size and shape from a local quarry.
PCA specified both traditional and discreet modern techniques to repair the tower. Seven different repair types were used including Heli-ties to ensure the buttresses and principal walls are now sufficiently tied together.