Site visit diary:
Repairs are underway at St Michael & All Angels', Gwernesney, Monmouthshire. Last week we met with the architect, contractor and engineer to discuss the work.
The project was instigated by the need for structural repairs to a decayed timber roof truss.
The woodwork embedded in the wall had rotted. As a result the surrounding stonework was displaced.
The project team has devised a flitch-plate repair: embedding a steel plate into the timber to restore structural integrity and retain as much historic woodwork as possible.
The coping stones are mixture of local Callow red sandstone, a brown-green Forest of Dean sandstone and… eh, some concrete slabs.
Many slabs are face-bedded, meaning the stone is delaminating. We must replace several of these, and reuse the existing wherever they are sound.
The walling of this Old Red Sandstone church dates to the 13th century, and the masonry is bedded in a beautiful, fine, soft pink lime-mortar. The contractor, Taliesin, will be replicating this mortar for their new work.
Other than discussing repairs, site visits always reveal little moments of delight. Last week at Gwernesney, these included some fleshy, peppery pennywort sprouting from cracks; a tiny green carpet month tucked under the eaves…
… a perfect iron spiral with traces of iron-oxide; the low winter sun finding its way through the gaps in the scaffold hoarding to sparsely illuminate the altar.