St Andrew's, Swanwick, Derbyshire

 

In June 2015, the National Churches Trust awarded a £5,000 Partnership Grant to St Andrew's, Swanwick, Derbyshire

The Grade II listed Church of St Andrew’s has its beginnings in 1856 when the Rev John Wood gave land for a church to be built in Swanwick. The foundation stone was laid on St Andrew’s Day 1858 and the building was complete by the following year. Designed by the architect Benjamin Wilson, the church is Early English in style and consists of a nave of five bays, north and south aisles. The tower was added in 1902. The east window by Martin Travers is dedicated to those who perished in the Great War, while the west window was designed and made by J.E. Nuttgens, Patrick Reyntiens and Jane Pepler.

The 2011 Quinquennial Inspection Report identified the need for urgent flashing and re-pointing to the church tower parapet. Because this was high level work, quotations revealed that the work required specialist contractors with steeplejack access. Despite the recent costly replacement of the entire heating system and reordering work, the PCC viewed it as essential to carry out the project during a period of vacancy, before the onset of winter 2015 and the installation of a new incumbent. The Derbyshire Churches and Chapels Trust recommended the project to the NCT through its Partnership Grant Programme. The grant enabled the completion of the essential repairs to the building prior to the onset of severe weather. In addition, it greatly relieved the stresses on the church management team at a time of vacancy, who were having to juggle the day-to-day management, fund-raising and the additional workload involved in a vacancy. Without the grant they may have had to resort to a loan, which would have placed a considerable strain on the already stretched resources.Work to the tower parapet began in late September and in October scaffolding was erected at the east end. The project was successfully completed within the allotted time scale.

Fundraising: Planned events such as the annual ‘Last Night of the Proms’ brass band and organ concert were enhanced and elevated to serious fundraising status. This was followed by a ‘Book Exchange’, a summer garden party, coffee mornings and finally ‘Teddy Bear Parachuting’. The plan to parachute the bears from the church tower during a two-day Gift Weekend and Harvest Festival proved something of a challenge. Contractors had to ensure that the tower repairs were completed beforehand, scaffolding removed and barriers re-positioned in order to enable access to the planned events, both inside and outside the church. 111 bears were despatched ‘over the top’ by the tower captain in climbing harnesses. ‘Bear Cam’ was also employed: a camera was strapped to a bear and the footage was shown on screens to those enjoying tea and cake inside the church!

Impacts:

  • The completion of the urgent stonework and gutter repairs has helped safeguard the long-term sustainability of the building, ensuring that it remains an important community asset for the future.
  • The areas of damp caused by deterioration of pointing are now drying out and paint will remain in place. Had the re-pointing not been carried out, it is highly likely that the exceptional recent wet weather conditions would have resulted in water ingress in the areas where the joints were porous, resulting in damage to interior plaster and paintwork.

New uses or users

  • The church is open on Friday mornings to all.
  • Two organ-related concerts are held annually in February and June, with extra one-off musical events periodically.
  • Based on average weekly attendance, weddings, funerals, baptisms, Christmas services, Remembrance day and two annual concerts, the estimated footfall is in the region of 5,750 per annum.

“Reflecting on this project, it would not have been achievable without the assistance of National Churches Trust and St. Andrew's members are grateful beyond measure. Areas of damp due to deterioration of pointing are now drying out, and paint will remain in place. Improvements to the approach help to meet our obligations to those with m ovement difficulty.  Now in a vacancy, we can greet a new incumbent who will face little concern over fabric. Both incumbent and church members have been given time to meet the challenges which the majority of churches face, challenges of an ageing and wearying congregation and admin team whilst at the same time attracting vigorous members and young families.” Churchwarden