Reordering Project 2017

by Chris Young

Latest News on the Reordering Project (December 2017)

  • We are sorry to say that we have had to delay our arrangements for ‘re-entry’ into St John’s after the completion of the Reordering Project. 
  • The Benefice Morning Eucharist that was planned as a Reopening Celebration on Sunday 3rd December has had to be cancelled. 
  • Our first service will now be the 8:00am service on Sunday 17th December followed by the Service of Lessons and Carols at 6:30pm on 17th December.  There will not be an All Age Worship service at St John’s on 17th December.
  • Why the delay?  Wrencon have been diligent in trying to keep to their work programme so that the Church could reopen at the beginning of Advent.  We knew this was a very tight completion schedule.  However, several things have conspired against achieving this.
  • Wrencon left the work in the Sanctuary until late on in the project.  This was the only area that could be used for storing items that could not easily be moved out of the Church, such as the pulpit.  
  • We knew that the Victorian tiles in the Sanctuary had to be re-laid but when the tiles were lifted there was unexpectedly, (and inexplicably!), a layer of bricks underneath.  
  • To get the levels right the bricks had to be removed and a much thicker layer of screed needed to be laid to reset the tiles to the correct level.  
  • In addition, the heating sub-contractor did not complete the under-floor heating system on time.  The heating needed to be on as the weather got colder to allow the Sanctuary screed to dry.
  • This has meant that the earliest that the tiler can start work in the Sanctuary is 27th November, and this has left insufficient time for the work to be completed on time.
  • Could there be further delays?
  • Wrencon have assured us that this is unlikely.  However, completion in time to hold services on the 17th December is not guaranteed.  I will keep you posted as work progresses.

December 2017

  • I am writing this at th end of the first week of November after returning from the Church where there are decorators, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and an audio system installer all working away, trying not to get in each other's way and not always succeeding
  • I am hopeful that the work will be completed for us to have our first Sunday service in Church on 3rd December, but this is by no means certain, since there are still outstanding issues that could delay the contractor
  • Keep reading Chris' blog and look at the Home page for the latest information or ring one of the Church Wardens
  • Thanks to those of you who have donated funds to update the organ console. We are some way off our target to fund this work so if you would live to help we would love to hear from you, by making it clear that the donation is for the organ work, we can guarantee this is what it will be used for.
  • Michael Farley, the organ manufacturer from Budleigh Salterton, who has been carrying out the work on the console, will be making the changes inside the organ chamber for it to be operation as the Church opens.
  • If you would like to provide financial support please see link to the 'Just Giving Page'

November 2017

  • At the time of writing we are 17 weeks into the project and although the floor has taken a little longer than expected, the joinery work has been progressing well off site and our contractor is still expecting to complete the work before the middle of November.
  • We plan to be back in Church for the Thursday 10.00 am service on 30th November. This will be followed by a Benefice Service at the start of Advent on Sunday 3rd December.  Check back here for further information.
  • The changes will make the space more flexible, at first it may not be totally right but with time a suitable layout will emerge.
  • Work is progressing on updating the organ and Michael Farley, the organ builder who is carrying out the work, expects to have fitted the new control mechanisms in the Organ Chamber and the console back in place for the first Sunday service.  
  • Sadly the National Lottery, 'Awards for All' scheme were unable to support us with funds for this work, so if you would like to help please let one of the Church Warden's know or the Rector, making it clear that it is for the 'Organ Fund'. Many thanks for your help.

October 2017

  • The project is still on target for completion in time for Advent
  • The floor should be complete by the end of September and work will have started on constructing the servers and the other carpentry work
  • It has been a pleasure working the the contractor Wrencon and in particular their supervisor Steve Roadhouse who is managing the operation efficiently.
  • It is not easy keeping the project on track when you are dealing with a building that dates back to the 13th Century and the complex issues that this raises, however the Project Architect Richard Codd from Chedburn's has risen to the challenges
  • Dick Broomhead, the project Archaeologist has been keeping records as the work progresses and taken photographs of everything that has been found during the work and will produce a detailed report in due course
  • We are now thinking about additional uses for the Church and Stephen, our Rector is chairing a group that seeks to put plans (outlined in our grant applications) in practice
  • If you know of any organisation who would like to make use of the additional facilities or a choir or musical group that would take advantage of the enhanced acoustics in the Church, we would be delighted to hear from you

September 2017

  • Work is progressing well and we expect to complete within the budget
  • Have a look at the blog to keep up with the latest news
  • In the July/August update I mentioned about the possible renovation of the organ which is separate from the reordering project but it seems a perfect time to carry this out
  • A bit for funds has been made to the National Lottery 'Awards for All' Scheme which provided funds towards the boiler and some people have also already donated funds for this work
  • If you would like to help to please make a donation you can do so by one of the methods below

July/August 2017

  • The work has now started. Thank you to those who helped clear the Church after the last service on Sunday 4th June. Thank you also to those who are storing items
  • We knew that there were memorials set in the floor of the aisles in the Church and now with the carpet removed, we can see that some have "here lyeth the body of ..." inscribed on them. They all dated from the early to mid 1600s. When the archaeologist made his initial visit, he thought there could be a brick-arched vault running under the Nave Aisle. Normally these are set well below any build-up need for the new floor and the archaeologist is confident he can provide solutions to whatever I found. (See Chris' blog for further information)
  • Michael Farley, an organ builder, has taken the organ console back to his workshop to be stored while the work is carried out. The console dates from 1969 and is connected to the organ pipes much in the way a 1960s telephone exchanged was, with a loom of about 100 cable strands linking to the organ pipes. The console can be refitted in the same way, but we are considering getting it reconfigured so that it would operate in the way a 21st Century telephone exchange does, with a 6-strand cable. We will need to refurbish the console at some time, and there would be no better time than now.
  • We have budgeted to provide seating for 150 but, as I said in the last update, I know there are some who would like to fund a chair in memory of a family member. If you would like to do this, or make a part contribution, a side chair costs £260, there will be a few with arms at £320 and pew-benches, seating up to 4 at £840. Additional funding for the chairs would allow some of the non-0essential items we have held back from commissioning at this stage to be brought back into the contract, including additional work on the organ.

Information given to attendees of the St. John's Annual Parochial Church Meeting (25 April 2017)

  • It is hoped to start work on 5 June.
  • It is hoped that the Church will be back operational for Advent
  • There are three phases to the work: 
    • Phase 1a - Essential work
    • Phase 1b - Additional work, such as cupboards
    • Phase 2 - Things that we would like to do but could wait such as the Porch Lantern (where issues have arisen with our insurers) and the nave door
  • It is hoped to do Phase 1a and 1b together but we do not know what is under the floor which has not been exposed for a very long time and will be dependent on the archaeologist's findings
  • During the reordering work the Church will be out of use, but the following areas will still be accessible: Belltower, Churchyard footpath and the Vestry
  • We need to store items from the Church; we could pay for storage but this would be very expensive.  We would appreciate any help from a parishioner who has storage capacity
  • If people want to buy the current pews the cost is £160 but the carved ones at the front are not for sale because they will be incorporated into a new alter which will be part of the reordering
  • It is suggested that the last Service in St John's Church on the 4th June will be a Benefice Celebration followed by a celebration in the Church Grounds
  • During the reordering work:
    • The 8 am Service will be held in Staplegrove Village Hall
    • There will be one Service at 10.30 am at All Saints Church, Norton Fitzwarren
    • The normal week day (Thursday) 10 am Service will be probably held on a Tuesday in Staplegrove Village Hall
    • Other services will be held in Staplegrove School and All Saints
    • There will be a weekly programme of changes during the reordering project on the Benefice website and the Website HomePage 
  • There has been much discussion about the new seating for the Church. It needs to be comfortable, aesthetic and practical
    • The shape of the chair needs to support the back; it must not be upholstered (Bath & Wells requirement); it must be comfortable for seating for long periods of time
    • Re-positioning must be easy; it must fit in with existing furniture
    • Although the chairs are heavy, they will stack - the benches x 3 high and the chairs x 4 high
    • It should fit in with the existing furniture in a Grade II listed building
    • The colour has been decided upon to fit in the colour wood of the organ and pulpit
    • The cost of the furniture is £700 for a three/four seater pew, £290 for a armchair and £150 for a folding chair
    • We have been advised to order the following furniture: 60 single chairs; 20 armed chairs; 12 pews. The new area will be set out for 100 people
  • The project has allowed enough money to buy the furniture
  • We will need a team to move the chairs on occasions. They do not need to be clipped together for safety reasons

May Journal

  • A summary of the last twelve months!
  • In April 2016 at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) it was reported that the Diocesan Advisory Committee for Historic Buildings had approved our proposals for the reordering
  • The Faculty (planning approval was obtained in May). At that time £120,000 was available for the project, approximately half the required amount
  • Four potential contractors were approached to tender but when their tenders were returned it was clear that the architect had under-estimated the sum required and it was obvious that the work could not commence in the summer of 2016
  • At that time the Steering Group was also pursuing various funding sources
  • The Architect began negotiations with the two lowest priced tenderers with a view to defer some non-essential items in the design
  • By the autumn a preferred contractor had emerged who was willing to hold his tender price until January 2017
  • The amounts of grant funding received were lower than hoped because there was competition for funding from other Churches
  • It was not until February 2017 that a grant from the Garfield Weston foundation and a legacy from a faithful Church member that the Steering Committee considered that they had sufficient funds to allow the architect to reopen negotiations with the preferred contractor - it looks as if the increased costs will be within current estimates
  • It is hoped that the work will start between mid-May and late June
    • The items deferred are: the feature glass door between the Porch and Nave; storage cupboards in the South Transept; improved storage between the Chancel and the Vestry; a replacement outside door into the South Transept and the roof lantern in the Porch
    • A buy a chair campaign will get underway when work starts to ensure that enough seating is available when the Church reopens in the autumn.
April Journal
  • Sufficient funds are now in place to start re-ordering
  • The National grant provider, Garfield Weston Foundation has pledged £10,000 towards the project and an interim payment against the estate of the faithful member of the choir, Norman Hitchen has been paid as part of his legacy
  • Our architect is in negotiations with the preferred contractor to update the tender with a view to starting the work in May or June
  • We still need funds to provide a few items such as the purchase of new chairs and pew benches and if you would like to help this can be done (see below)

March Journal

  • We now have 85% of the funds needed to start work.  The target figure includes a contingency against unforeseen costs, but the architect still feels that we do not have enough funds to guarantee that we can fulfill our obligations to the contractor. We therefore still do not have a start date
  • There are two bids to grant providers outstanding either of which may give us the final 15% required to start the project, however there are a number of other churches applying for the same funding which means that there is insufficient funds to go round
  • This is disappointing but we will get there and thank you for your continued support and patience with the project.

New Year

  • We are not quite ready to make a start on the Church re-ordering work, so services will be as normal through February and into March
  • Thank you to everbody who gave their time and money so generously during 2016 and help us realise this ambitious plan. I understand the undertainty this delay creates but, rest assured, that the Reordering Steering Group are doing all they can to make a start as soon as possible
  • There will be more information about the project in March

Donations can be made as follows:

  • www.justgiving/stjohn-theevangelist
  • sending a cheque, payable to PCC Staplegrove to Chris Young at 1 Lawn Road, Staplegrove, Taunton, TA2 6EH
  • BACS, sort code 60-80-06, account no. 70811393 with a reference of the first 5-6 letters of your surname and your postcode

Thank you for your support