Celebrations at St Faith's Hexton
Published: Saturday, October 1, 2016
St Faith’s church in Hexton, Hertfordshire, a Grade II* Listed building, is celebrating the completion of a major project to repair the chancel and vestry roofs and gutters. Thanks to this vital work, the church was removed from Historic England’s Heritage At Risk Register in October 2016.
The £120,000 project was given a major boost in June 2015 when it was awarded a £75,000 WREN grant on the recommendation of the National Churches Trust, and a £20,000 Repair Grant directly from the National Churches Trust.
St Faith’s dates from the thirteenth century, but parts of the building are thought to be even older, incorporating a building dedicated in the 1100s. Highlights of the interior include an octagonal limestone font, inlaid with Gothic designs, and a fifteenth century timber beamed roof, with ridge moulding and carved medieval angels. The fifteenth century tower partially collapsed in 1947, and the ruins have been left standing.
Keeping the rain out
The chancel and vestry roof structure last saw improvement work in the early 1800s. A Quinquennial Inspection in 2015 confirmed that the basic structure was riddled with damp, and, with internal beams rotting and unsafe, it became clear that the roof and gutter needed urgent repairs.
The project has replaced the rotting beams, and improved ventilation and insulation which will keep water out and reduce heating costs. Gutter capacity and capability has increased, preventing future water damage.
Tony Howells, Churchwarden and Treasurer, said:
"We are immensely grateful for the generosity and helpfulness of the grant giving organisations, without whom we would still be discussing what to do.”
He also praised the standard of workmanship from the contractors, Bakers of Danbury, who are members of the National Churches Trust’s Professional Trades Directory.
Welcoming the community in
Dealing with the damp and water ingress has benefited worshippers and local people alike. St Faith’s is well used as a community centre as well as a church. A previous interior project removed the box pews from the nave, and built a kitchen and toilet into the base of the collapsed tower. With an access ramp and facilities to cater for 80, the space was transformed.
It is used by a playgroup on weekdays, and also hosts music and flower festivals, fundraising events, and events for the village school. There is even a monthly farmers market, with stallholders selling local seasonal produce.
During the repair work, it was important that the community centre was able to stay open for business. This also created opportunities to open up the heritage and architecture of St Faith’s, with users able to view the work in progress. The church is putting together a ‘Before and After’ display to continue this engagement, and to proudly showcase the work that has been done.
The repair of the chancel and vestry roofs has ensured that St Faith’s can remain open to continue to welcome in its local community.