article was first published in the September 1999 issue of the Prestbury
St. Nicolas’ Ceiling and Windows
sermon at St. Nicolas’ on 25th July 1999 Fr. Stephen invited the
congregation to look heavenwards, which traditionally means UP. On this
occasion however the reason was more prosaic than prophetic. The fabric
committee had met with the architect earlier in the week and were keen to
share their ideas with the congregation. What follows is a brief summary -
what happens next depends on decisions by the PCC.
The ceiling is deteriorating,
mainly due to condensation between the ceiling and the roof, there being no
insulation and little ventilation. While not in immediate danger of collapse
some remedial work will be required in the not too distant future.
The architect proposed replacing
the current ceiling with one constructed from strips of wood, installed
horizontally and running around the building following the existing roof
line, with narrow risers between each strip (it was much easier to explain
at the presentation when a demonstration piece was shown). The risers would
be made of cork and the whole could then be "tuned" for much improved audio
qualities by either drilling holes or fixing hard surfaces to these risers.
This method of construction is
labour intensive, each strip being cut to size and shape on-site, and the
preferred medium is English Oak, with a possible option of Ash. The
architect’s estimate for this is £25,000 to include removal of the
old ceiling, all construction work, insulation, ventilation improvements,
some rewiring for lighting and scaffolding. The use of Ash would bring the
price down to about £22,000 but the appearance begins to look like cheap
softwood; an absolute minimum using man-made materials (e.g. aluminium)
would be in the region of £17,500.
In case you have ever wondered, the
baby bath often seen between choir and organ is not for some arcane
baptismal ceremony but is located to catch water which frequently comes
through the window. Although the other large window is in slightly better
condition both are beginning to rot and need regular maintenance.
The architect has proposed removing
all the frames and having windows made only of glass held together with
claw-like fixings. The glass is very strong and has insulating
properties which make it as good as double glazing. The sealer between the
panes is guaranteed for 30 years. There would be no doors and ventilation
would be at eaves level.
The estimate for this work
is £10,000 (i.e. £5,000 per window). The architect invited us to consider
including some artwork (akin to etching but using a printing process) which
would identify the building very clearly as a Christian one. The cost of
this artwork would depend on the artist and other factors but a figure in
the region of £5,000 was suggested.
If this work is undertaken certain
other aspects of the building must be considered - for instance the
remaining lighting will look dated, the roof will need overhauling,
bargeboards will need painting or replacing and the interior will benefit
Work could begin within a month of
permission being given and would take 6-8 weeks, though the church would not
necessarily be out of action all that time.
Proposals will need to be put to
the PCC. If they agree then discussions with the Local Authority and the
Diocesan Advisory Committee must be undertaken. It is hoped that the work
will be VAT free, but this is not yet certain. An additional 11% for
architect’s fees has to be added to the costs and it must be emphasised that
the above are architect’s estimates.