King Of Prussia Gold Medal - Shortlisted Nominees 2015

Ten projects have been shortlisted for the 2015 King of Prussia Gold Medal church architecture award for innovative, high quality church conservation or repair work, run by the Ecclesiastical Architects and Surveyors Association and the National Churches Trust. The shortlisted entries are listed below in alphabetical order of place name. 18 entries were received.
• Bury St Edmunds, St Edmund’s Parish Church
• East Drayton, St Peter’s Church
• London, Gospel Oak, St Martin’s Church
• Neath, St David’s Church
• Newark, St Mary Magdalene Parish Church
• Newbury, Newbury Methodist Church
• North Featherstone, All Saints Church
• North Walsham, St Nicholas’ Church
• Pirton, St Peter’s Church
• Rosyth, Rosyth Parish Church

Bury St Edmund’s, St Edmund’s Parish Church

BHB Architects


St Edmund's Catholic Church is one of the oldest post-reformation parishes in East Anglia and the current church building dates from 1837. The conservation and restoration of the apse and chancel was the final stage in a three year project to prepare the church for the 250th anniversary of the first Mass celebrated in the parish. The work included a wide range of specialist decorative techniques and very fine detailing, including scagliola to the columns (hand painting in successive layers of colour to achieve a marbled finish), gilding to the egg and dart detailing of the column capitals, signwriting and gilded lettering, design and setting out of the stencilling and hand painting of the tri-colour cruciform decoration of the walls framing the apse and cleaning and conservation of the mural to the apse. The beautifully completed work provides a spectacular backdrop to all services, ordinances and celebrations.


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East Drayton, St Peter’s Church

Soul Architects Ltd


Major structural repairs and re-roofing following an infestation of death watch beetle. See attached photos with notes.


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London, Gospel Oak, St Martin’s Church

Rees Bolter Architects


The church of St Martin, Gospel Oak was built in 1864-6 to the designs of Edward Buckton Lamb (1806-1869), one of the finest examples of his personal and highly idiosyncratic architectural style. It is brick built, with facings of Kentish Rag and Bath stone dressings. The project comprised the urgent repair of the crumbling ragstone facings and decaying structural elements of the tower, which had become a significant concern, together with the reinstatement of the pinnacles and the colossal 9 metre high corner tower that had been removed in about 1950. In the absence of original drawings, the design of the replacement stonework was based on historic photographs and the detailing of other parts of the building, using 3D computer modelling to ensure that the silhouette and scale of the additions matched the historic photographs. The church lies within an area of deprivation, and which is currently being rebuilt for the second time. The restoration of the unique and dramatic profile of the church allows it to take centre stage within the reinvigorated community and signals the presence of the church from afar.


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Neath, St David’s Church

Garner Southall Partnership


Phase Two Repairs to St Davids Church, Neath. St David’s Church was built between 1864 & 1866, seven years after the inception of the King of Prussia Gold Medal. The design by John Norton of London, must be typical of the contemporary Church architecture by which King Freidrich Wilhelm IV was so impressed. St David’s is an exuberant and confident example of Victorian architecture whose tower dominates the town. Built in a 13th Century French Gothic Style, it has a tall 5 bay Nave with low north & south aisles, north and south transepts, an apsidal chancel and a 5 stage “Rhenish” tower structure with a corbelled ashlar top storey and corner bartizans. The interior is in red brick with diaper pattern black brick decoration and equally exuberant carved bathstone details to arcades, clerestoreys and windows. Due to the height and inaccessibility of the tower, maintenance was difficult and costly and it had to be patched by steeplejacks at regular intervals. Eventually failure of the chancel roof finial and the danger of wind dislodging slates and spalling fragments of masonry represented an unacceptable risk not only to the public generally but in particular to the primary school in close proximity to the Church. Funds were raised from HLF, WREN, CADW and a variety of other bodies and individuals to repair the tower and chancel. In order to avoid problems of falling slates in future, the conventional hip detail on the five roofs was redesigned to incorporate 1000 lead hip soakers instead. This technique had previously been used by Garner Southall 20 years ago on turrets at Newton House, Llandeilo for the National Trust and has proved 100% effective. A local contractor, David Siggery Ltd used a small band of highly skilled and very patient local craftsmen to execute the work to the highest conservation standards.


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Newark, St Mary Magdalene Parish Church

Peter McFarlane


Rebuilding the top of the 237ft. high spire to the church of St. Mary Magdalene, Newark on Trent, has revealed some interesting early 19th century repair techniques. In 2007 high winds dislodged some high-level stonework including the top of the tower north-west pinnacle. Steeplejacks had to ladder the lower part of the spire to above the top of the pinnacle in order to repair it from above. So the opportunity was taken to ladder the rest of the spire to inspect it, in particular the top. There was no record of this having been done in modern times, apart from installing and then removing a warning light for the military aircraft using the local airfields in 1939-45. It had always been apparent that the vane rod was only through the solid top of the spire and held in place by a big nut and washer under the solid top – rather than by the usual holding-down rod and “cross-trees” spanning across the hollow part of the spire lower down. There were no obvious problems but the steeplejacks found, just above the top, finial stone and concealed by it from ground-level views, a mass of rust concealing a slot in the square-section vane rod, into which a tapered wedge had been driven to tighten up the solid top stones against a washer and the bottom nut and washer. Rust had gathered in and around this water-holding slot and wedge, the rod was wasting away at this point, and the vane rod, topped by a heavy full-bodied copper cockerel, was starting to lean over. If this lean had increased, the cockerel would have stopped rotating freely in the wind and would have begun to suffer from wind pressure side-on to it, causing vibration and a further lean. The cockerel was therefore removed, the vane rod cut off above the finial, and the solid top strapped for safety, although there were no signs, and never had been signs, of the embedded iron rod rusting, expanding and cracking the top stones. The reasons for this lack of damage would become clear later. For various reasons, a Heritage Lottery grant was not available but by 2014 the estimated repair cost of £100,000 had been raised. Steeplejacks with a relatively light scaffold proved more economical that masons with a more substantial scaffold. The planned repairs involved the usual holding-down rod and cross-bars. The very nicely lettered finial stone (Wallis & Marshall, 1818) proved very difficult to remove. It was found that the iron rod passed through an over-sized central hole and had been grouted in with molten lead that had glued all the top stones together. So all these stones had to be split apart to remove them, but the big central hole made them unfit for re-use anyway, and all new top stones had been budgeted for, whilst hoping that they would not be needed. They had also always been unsightly, being a very hard, dark sandstone that had kept its coating of soot from the days of coal fires – unlike the rest of the limestone spire and tower that had had its soot washed off by rain, except under overhangs and in other sheltered parts. The decision was made to replace these stones in limestone, rather than sandstone. This later attracted one or two comments from the public who had a lot of opinions to voice in passing this town-centre church: why had we painted the top of the spire white when it used to be painted black? Not, incidentally, the worst question to which the steeplejacks had been subjected to, on another spire job done from a ladder: when you put a ladder up a spire, do you start at the bottom and work up, or do you start at the top and work down? They assured me that they were not pulling my leg and that this had been a genuine and serious question. The embedded iron rod had suffered only light corrosion where the molten lead had left air pockets. All the rest was still bright metal, as is often the case with old wrought iron protected by lead. But the most remarkable aspect of the 1818 work was that the lead must have been heated to a high temperature and poured into the top of the spire on top of a high wooden pole scaffold held together with rope. It could not have been melted at ground level and then lifted: it would have cooled and solidified on its way up. It could possibly have been melted on the tower parapet walkway half-way up, but then would have had to be lifted dangerously. So there was a lot to admire about the 1818 repairs that had lasted nearly 200 years with the wedged slot being the only weakness, and an understandable weakness if one accepts that for some reason a holding-down rod and cross-bars were not the method selected – and indeed there were, and still are, plenty of vanes supported only by old rods through the solid tops of spires. The top of the spire was rebuilt, other repairs and a second lightning conductor, earthing and coronal bands were added, and other savings and un-used contingencies allowed the steeplejacks to do the unplanned job of repointing all the defective joints in the spire (not all the joints, just the ones needing repointing) partly from the scaffolding up one side of the spire, and partly from a bosun’s chair. The final cost was just £500 above the estimated £100,000, including the fee of the CDM Co-ordinator who had to carefully anticipate hazards on a town-centre site surrounded by public pavements with no churchyard serving as a safety zone, and then pay visits to check that the work was proceeding in a reasonably safe and sound way.



Newbury, Newbury Methodist Church

Paul Chester and Peter Njuguna, MEB Design Ltd


Although the present Methodist Church has been in place since 1838, there are records showing that there was a previous building on the site being used as a place of worship, which from its foundation, has seen many changes. While being a beautiful structure with many fine features, the building failed to provide a sufficiently welcoming and comfortable environment that could be appreciated by the existing congregation prompting a general need to retain existing members and attract those who were not yet part of it. MEB Design Ltd was appointed following the church’s Quinquennial Inspection to sensitively design and develop the existing buildings to provide a more welcoming, comfortable, flexible and inspirational sacred space for all. Various structural investigations had been carried out prior to MEB’s appointment and, most notably, there were concerns that the organ loft – a later addition to the north elevation - was pulling away from the original church, which incidentally, was founded on substantial foundations in the order of 3m deep. Whilst on site, further invasive and exploratory investigations showed the problem to be far worse than originally expected, with the internal cracking extending through the entire width of the north-west corner of the church. Specialist temporary propping solutions were designed and installed by Rothwell Ltd to permit the re-building of the north-west corner and the base of the failing organ loft, all of which had to be installed before the removal of the existing vestry extension, failing buttresses and corner of the church. Walls were re-built using bricks and lime mortar before facing up with existing and new sandstone to restore this corner to its original form. Essential repairs were also carried out the front elevation of the church, replacing spooled, failing stone facings and eroding stone details, which if left would continue to dilapidate at an increased rate. The existing worship space is now fully redecorated and restored to its earlier condition with enhanced facilities more appropriate to today’s usage with just a few pews. A level access glazed entrance lobby now provides views into the sanctuary from the busy High Street assisting links with the local community. A gem in Newbury that will stand for the foreseeable future. Newbury Methodist Church has been saved!


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North Featherstone, All Saints Church

Arctic Associates Ltd


Stone repairs to east gable wall window and chancel roof timbers.


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North Walsham, St Nicholas’ Church

Nicholas Warns Architect Ltd


The Grade 1 Church of St Nicholas is in North Norfolk, located in the centre of North Walsham just north of the old market place. The tower which dates from the second half of the 14th century is now a ruin with a modern vestry and choir room built into the base. The modern component dates from 1953 and was reworked in 1972. It now has two stories and a flat roof. The lower story is a vestry and the upper is a practice room of the choir. The remnant of the tower on the north side provides evidence for an earlier church on a different alignment and also adds interest to the composition at the west end of the building. The south-west corner of the tower fell in 1835 due to a storm and in 1836 the surviving upper stage of the east wall (the belfry) was demolished. Even as a ruin the tower remains an impressive feature and provides a necessary emphasis at the west end of the church. Concrete repairs had become detached from the core of the wall and large pieces of debris were falling off, endangering the public. This was exacerbated by water ingress, retention behind the cement pointing and subsequent plant growth. For safety reasons the base of the Tower had to be fenced off. The Tower is a distinctive landmark in the town and the proposal aimed to enhance it by converting it from a decaying ruin to a proud monument complimenting the spectacular church. The project (completed in March 2015) addressed the south wall and its buttresses. It incorporates an honest repair by building up render faces with tile quoins to protect the vulnerable exposed core of the partially fallen walls and installing stone weatherings to shed water. This repair provides the aesthetic of leaving the edge of the historic fabric visible but also provides a monument worthy of the same standard as the rest of the church. The building is always accessible from the churchyard and the proposal is intended to enhance public enjoyment of it. The principal elements of the work were as follows: • Remove cement pointing from tower walls and repoint in lime mortar. • Rebuild sections of loose flintwork to stabilise the south wall. • Improve weathering details to wall tops, string courses and buttresses. • Repair window in the west end of the South Aisle.


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Pirton, St Peter’s Church

Nick Joyce Architects


The timber framed tower of St Peter’s Church, Pirton is one of only 5 to be found in the county of Worcestershire. This one is unique for its additional side aisles thought to have been added at a later date. The tower has recently undergone significant repairs to the timber frame construction. These repairs have been undertaken using traditional consrtuction methods such as Mortice and Tenon joints pegged using hexagonal tapered oak pegs. The infill panels have been repaired using riven oak lath woven around oak staves let into the head and base rails. Infill panels were then completed using daub finish. One of the major challenges was to correct earlier poor quality repair work where inappropriate materials and techniques had been used. The success of this project is down to the supervising architect’s passion for timber framed buildings.


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Rosyth, Rosyth Parish Church

City Architecture Office Ltd


Rosyth Parish Church is a B-listed building which stands at the heart of Rosyth, the only Garden City in Scotland, dating from 1915, after the Royal Naval Dockyard was expanded in the early 1900s. The church was designed by Hugh Mottram (a pupil of Raymond Unwin, the founder of the Garden City concept) and completed in 1930. The building is reminiscent of Dutch Architecture, with its square tower and ogee roof, crowned with an octagonal teak belfry, copper roof and topped by a cross. The nave, 80ft by 40ft wide is spanned by an intricate open timber trussed roof with a wide arch at the west end which leads to the apse. A later church hall extension of 1954 was also designed by Mottram, as are many of the surrounding original houses of the Garden City. The church became unusable in 2004 after the aged heating system failed. The congregation decanted 'temporarily' to another church at the edge of the town and remained there due to the progressive deterioration of the building. In 2011, significant dry rot was identified at the church and urgent action was instigated by the congregation and local community to safeguard the future of the building. An Architect led design team was appointed, a feasibility study was carried out, problems identified, plans prepared and fundraising started. The vision was to create a multi-use ‘hub’ to ensure that the church is a sustainable asset at the heart of Rosyth for the benefit of the community. Significant progress was made over the following years. In June 2012, Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) awarded a first round pass of £25,000 in order to progress the project to obtain Listed Building Consent and planning permission, accurate costings, go to tender, as well as raising matched funding. Stage 2 Heritage lottery funding was successfully obtained in 2013 for the first phase of renovations which covered essential fabric repair work at a cost of £380,000. The rot to be eradicated affected approximately 35% of the walls, floors and roof. The slate roof required complete renewal, the copper clad belfry needed replacing, the bell & tower restored, original corroded metal framed Crittal windows overhauled, conserved and re-instated, all single glazing panes replaced. Also, structural work was required to the roof, buttresses and floors. The initial fabric repairs were completed in 2014. Following this, further funding of around £175,000 was secured to refurbish the interior to make the church sanctuary habitable and accessible to all. Work started in March 2015 and was completed in August. New heating, lighting, full insulation, a kitchen, lobby space, audio-visual and further facilities including a new multiuse room that replaces the organ gallery, have all been created to transform the building into a highly flexible place for worship and other activities. Original artworks depicting the stations of the cross have been restored and integrated into a new storage screen within the sanctuary space. The completion of the renovation works coincides with the centenary of the founding of Rosyth Garden City and sees the church re-open for worship after an absence of 11 years. The innovative remodelling and improvements to the existing fabric retain the original character of the B-listed building, improve accessibility and create new opportunities for contact and interaction with the community.


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