NECESSARY restoration work on the west
end of St Mary's Parish Church means that this normally attractive
aspect of the building will be hidden from view, much to
dismay of local people and tourists visiting the town.
It also meant that some
brides cancelled their big day at the town centre church. Admittedly, the scaffolding
erected by the restorers would be an ugly background to wedding
photographs - unless you wanted something really different - but the
church does have other excellent backgrounds, including the altar.
And some photographers have been leading the wedding parties to the
east end where there is a better background.
It is apparently not so
much a major repair - there is no danger of the structure collapsing
- as making good
some of the damaged sandstone and
filling in some cracks. Grills will also be installed over the
The work was expected to
take about five months - that's until the end of July - but there is
still some scaffolding to be taken down, suggesting more work.
You can still get into the
building through a temporary west door (right) although that is not normally
access, except for weddings,
funerals and special occasions. But that
is the only access as the south porch access is being altered to be
opened up and made more accessible to people in a wheelchair or with other walking
This work involves the
removal of a Victorian wooden inner set of doors (which are planned
to become a kitchen in the north aisle - see the
appeal page). The original
sturdy wooden doors will remain but additional glass doors will be
The original wooden doors were cut at the time when the inner
part was installed so that they would open into it. These will be
restored to their original state.
The steps are being widened to the whole width of the entrance and a lift for
wheelchair users will be installed.
That was the plan -
see the final result here