After high winds last week had made working at altitude too hazardous, stonemason Elliott Brotherton decided it was safe to ascend the scaffolding at the west end of St Mary’s Church, Rye, on Tuesday October 19.
His task was to dismantle the remains of the pinnacle, part of which had fallen in March 2018 narrowly missing a resident of Watchbell Street as he was crossing the churchyard, as reported last June in Rye News.
The pinnacle and decorative finial had been installed in Victorian times to surmount a turret over a former internal staircase (now blocked up) that gave access to the clerestory. The ferrous metal rod securing the finial had expanded through rust corrosion and shattered the stone.
The remaining pieces of masonry will be carefully numbered, lowered to the ground and stored in a secure enclosure against the west wall whilst the missing pieces are carved for assembly with a newly designed clamp for reinstatement.
Before repairs could commence it had been necessary to obtain the Diocesan Faculty approval and to programme the work, which is expected to be completed by late summer, well before the onset of autumn gales.
John Gurney, St Mary’s church surveyor, commented: “Looking after an old building like this is a continual task. While the stonemason is up there he’ll take a closer look at the condition of the north finial which will probably also need replacing over the next five years.”
Image Credits: Kenneth Bird , John Gurney , Elliott Brotherton .