pointing the west end

Over the bank holiday weekend we hired a cherry picker to point up and repair any loose stonework on the west end of the church. It was really good to get up close to areas that we’ve never accessed before, and to fill in all those holes! The cherry picker was perfect for this job as it reached surprisingly high, getting us to the top of the west gable end and we could easily move across the walls scanning for any loose mortar or stonework.
Yes that is ‘Fearless Fred’ in the basket up there… (with a harness!)
Getting to all the nooks and crannies.

The weather was not kind to us – for two days we got soaked, but we had to carry on working. At least the lime mortar didn’t dry out too fast and we protected what we could with hessian, which worked really well.

At least we got some good views of the churchyard… taking these photographs (with my phone) was really helping to take my mind off the swaying of the basket at this point. When the cherry picker was at it’s full extent was when it was most terrifying, and when you really start to doubt the physics and engineering of what is holding you up. This feeling was not helped by the alarm going off on our first ascent and all the controls were disabled! (I could barely breathe or move I was so struck with panic). Thinking the weight in the basket may be too much as we had mortar, water and stones to fill in any large holes with us, we attempted to reduce the weight by throwing what we could out of the basket (all the while Karl was laughing saying it was me that was too heavy – charming!) Anyhow, that seemed to work as eventually the alarm stopped, the cherry picker didn’t topple over or collapse and the controls worked again. We made it back down to ground level, retrieved our things and (somehow) got back in the basket and up we went again, thankfully with no alarms sounding.
Don’t look down!
No really, DON’T look down!
The ledges above the windows were in most need of repair. There was a lot of evidence of rainwater having sat on the ledge, washing away the mortar and then running into the wall. After fixing them up, we put a lip of mortar along the ledge to prevent water sitting there.
The coping stones on the gable end needed a lot of pointing as these are very exposed. Any loose cement mortar was removed to be replaced by a more flexible and breathable lime mortar.
It was interesting to see some of the incredible stonework up here – the V shaped stone on the apex of the gable end being carved from a single piece of stone. And the decoration of the arched windows, again this V shape being hand crafted from one piece – how heavy must this of been to lift into place!

The wood of the air vent in the nave roof was in need of some ‘Hardwood Reviver’, though considering it has weathered a possible 170 years of westerly storms, it has lasted particularly well.
After the clean up – pretty much the whole of what you can see here has been re-pointed and repaired. Another ‘little’ job crossed off the ‘to do’ list!