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Church House, South Tawton, Devon, UK





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Archive 10

Church House Restoration Project - News Update
20th July
(This is an amendment to the circular sent to The Friends of Church House)

The contractor is well under way, with much work having been carried out already. There is a further Open Visit Day on August 12th from 1.30 to 3.30 pm , before the project is completed about September 23 rd . Do take the opportunity to see the work in progress, as it will be many years before this chance occurs again! Many skilled craftsmen have been involved in the restoration, and we are grateful to the Heritage Lottery fund and our other supporters for their help in making this exciting project possible. Little did we know when we met to discuss the need to re-thatch Church House that it would lead to a complete repair and restoration of the whole building.

There will be an opportunity to thank all those who have put effort into the planning and execution of the work starting from the first tentative steps of obtaining reports on the feasibility of going for a major grant. The whole process has taken 3 years and one of the great rewards has been the chance to meet so many people with enthusiasm for Church House. The Management Committee are planning the re-opening events for Saturday October 15 th when we will be celebrating the completion of the actual building work. However, there will be more to do after this, since we need to ensure that the restored building is used and enjoyed by our community and is also available to the wider public so that all can appreciate the importance of Church House as a heritage asset in this area. The committee are working hard to achieve these aims, and if you feel you have something to contribute please let us know!


Plans for October 15 th - Official Opening Day

We expect that Church House will be open from 2pm to enable everyone to look round the building. At 2.30 pm we will have the Official Opening Ceremony and during the afternoon there will be a hog roast with a programme of medieval and modern entertainment by local performers. Teas and refreshments will be available together with Church House Ale , being brewed for us by Exe Valley Brewery (on sale through their outlets in the Westcountry). Over 500 years ago, brewing and baking were one of the main purposes for the building and it is part of the tradition that we hope to revive annually.

We are fortunate that the change of date to the 15th means that it coincides with the visit of the Exeter Cathedral Choir to perform in St Andrew's at 7.30 pm so visitors can round off an afternoon of sightseeing, feasting and merry making with an evening of aural delight. Members of the committee will be on hand to answer any questions you may have about the project so please make a note in your diary now!

Church House Management Committee
John Christian, Mike Bailey, Eric Humphreys, Irene Madders, Clifford White, Fi Reddaway, Nora Bertram, Andy Frangleton,
Pete Kilgannon and David Youle


Stone Masonry & Other Progress  Pete Kilgannon 1st July 2005
Things are changing day by day as the various restoration experts apply their skills. The problem is, if you go too regularly, you tend not to be struck by the significant amount of work that has taken place. If you go less frequently, you are likely to miss something.

The most significant event visually during June was the work of the stonemason, Ian Piper, replacing the lintels and mullions in the windows. The granite comes from his quarry on Bodmin which I am hoping to video for the archives next week

Ian Piper's Landrover
Ian measuring for the mullion
Cement being cleaned away
Ensuring the mullion is upright
Ian working on the outside
Measuring ther gap
The mason chiselling
I hope you can't lip read
A view of the mason from inside
Mullion awaiting fixing
The west window without its lintel
The lintel ready to be put in place
The initial lift of the granite
Positioning the lintel
The central window without the mullion
The mullion in place

The start of the month saw the first of the three planned 'Open Visits' scheduled so people can come along and see for themselves how the restoratation is goping and to be able to put questions to the restoration team, in this case Project manager David Youle, Heritage Consultant Cynthia Gaskell Brown and Site Manager Martin Clarke. The next Open Visit times are 8th July and 12th August 13.30 - 15.30 an everyone is welcome to come along.

A group of visitors with Martin Clarke in the background
Cynthia points something out to David
Explaining some history
David & guest from the (open) first floor

Other building issues that have been addressed this month were waterproofing, electrical layout, LPG storage, timber treatment, joinery, metal windows and leaded glass in addition to general progress on the various current construction works. An extensive area of cobbles were discovered under the floor in the toilet area and this was referred to the heritage consultants. Arrangements are being made with the thatcher to visit the growing crop in the near future.
The services pipe is covered
The temporary electrics
Builders tools & materials
Evidence of Death Watch Beetle

Many issues have been keeping the project team busy this month, include the planning for the official re-opening, decisions regarding various items of equipment (alarms, lighting, kitchen, audio loops, display and storage), brewing Church House ale, road signs, insurance, display and interpretation panels and leaflets. A major debate is taking place with regard to the early history of the building in the light of evidence turned up in the various investigations (Thatch, Timber, Thermal, Archaeology, etc. ), now that the final reports have been received, and the actual visual construction details.
A bricked up window
After the window has been uncovered
Evidence of an earlier building?
Differing construction techniques

The projected (but unconfirmed) re-opening date looks like being October 1st, with a heritage slanted afternoon event (opening by prominent personage, music from the Wren Trust, press & media coverage, etc.). It is planned that this be followed in the evening by a 'local' celebration of singing, dancing and mumming to accompany the Church Ale and other pleasantries in the square and the Seven Stars public house opposite. Obviously this has yet to be agreed and arranged but it is only three months away now and thinking is starting to get focused.
David measures a display panel site
Carpenter's saw and restored window
Old windows awaiting replacement
Signage outside the site

     Further Information

      Please contact David Youle

          Phone      01837 840418