St Mary and St John

 

Awarded a grant to help fund urgent repairs to stonework. Following the collapse of high level masonry on buttresses on the west elevation and window surrounds on the west and south elevations, work is urgently required to prevent further loss of fabric and risk to passers-by. The project will preserve the Grade II* listed building for future generations, address the issues of interior damage to the fabric of the building caused by water penetration, whilst also removing the church from the Heritage at Risk register.

St. Mary and St. John, situated in a deprived area of Wolverhampton, is a fine example of a mid-Victorian Catholic church. It is particularly notable for its rich interior.  Designed by Charles Hansom and built between 1851 and 1855, the main force behind the building of the church was John Hawksford, who later became Wolverhampton's first Catholic mayor.

The work was carried out by Wolverhampton builder, Richard Wullen. The church’s construction unfortunately coincided with the Crimean War, which led to delays and increased costs. The stone used from a local quarry was untested as a building material and the industrial atmosphere of the time played havoc with the fabric of the church. The poor quality of the stone revealed itself in flaking masonry and general decay. In 1907 it was rendered to prevent further deterioration with what was thought to be 'Metallic Cement'. This was removed in the 1990s due to how porous it is. When analysed it was found to be 'Sorel Cement', an artificial stone.

Top tips from feedback:

- Get a good team, with a variety of expertise, to co-ordinate the project. Do not rely on just one or two people.

- Spread the load during the Development Stage, especially with proposed activity plans, and throughout the project.

- Propose realistic/achievable plans.

- Keep an eye on costs, especially on extra work which has to be covered by contingency costs.

- Keep Grant Officers informed regularly.

- Apply for VAT reclaim regularly from the start, including from the Development stage, or you may miss out on some payments.

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