‘RE-USE, RECYCLE, RESURRECT!’
The photograph left shows the porch at St. Andrew’s as it looks today – a little sad and in need of restoration. Whilst the formal process of enabling this restoration to take place is well advanced and the job of raising the necessary funds is underway [but sadly still well short of what is needed], the journey of exploring the porch’s history has been a time consuming although interesting one.
This photograph from 1961 [of Margaret (Peggy) Davies] is the best one we have to show-case the heavy oak gates on the porch that village elders remember. Other wedding photographs collected for a Platinum Jubilee Exhibition, indicate that the gates were removed some-time between 1967-71. We are told that they were often pegged back although they needed to be shut when sheep were grazing in the church yard!
Fast forward to around 2020 and all that was left of this distinctive entrance feature was part of a single gate, decaying in the churchyard shed.
As part of the research to ascertain the porch’s historical significance [needed to obtain the necessary legal permission or ‘faculty’ to restore it] the decaying wood from the gate was laid out like a particularly tricky jigsaw to check what might be salvaged.
Anthony (Tony) Cramp, from Church House kindly agreed to use his practical skills and creative talents so as to reconstitute a panel from the gate. This gives us (and indeed the church architect) a record of what has gone before. This re-constituted piece – heavily doused in treatment for woodworm – is on display in the church alongside the architect’s plans for the restoration of the porch.
This left us with a jumble of bits and pieces, many crumbling away. One of our number had the brain-wave that a rustic cross could be made for the altar when the ‘silverware’ is not in use. As if by divine intervention, four of the remaining pieces were exactly the right proportions and needed no extra shaping. Tony, however, performed a small miracle in ‘invisibly stitching’ them together, as well as treating and cleaning the timber, but as the wood was pointed at the bottom it would not stand upright without some modification. The picture left shows that the cross looked beautiful, but given its weight, carrying it around looked rather like a one person Passion Play as it was best hefted up against your shoulder!
Rather than destroying this feature in the original wood, we sought the advice of David Lloyd of The Butts Cottages about making a metal stand that would keep the cross vertical. Having given David a garbled specification together with the pious hope that it might be ready for the Queen’s Jubilee, we left him to ponder potential solutions; this was a real challenge given that the cross is so heavy. Several weeks later, David’s skill in metal work was apparent for all to see when the cross appeared back in my hall. Like Tony before him, David had done an excellent job – this time in creating a sturdy and yet delicate and aesthetically pleasing base which held the cross firmly upright.
The beautiful cross was proudly in place on the altar of the church for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations in June 2022. It was much admired by the many parishioners who came to the bell ringers ‘open session’ and to view the display of Allensmore photographs and memorabilia during the Queen’s lifetime. Our final picture shows how the cross complements the woodwork of the communion table.
In our sustainability-minded times, we can truly take pride that our local crafts-people have RE-USED and RE-CYCLED to make this splendid new addition to St. Andrew’s. However, given its core purpose, perhaps the last word needs to be RESURRECTED!
Yvonne Chapman (Allensmore History Matters)