Help us save our tower!

Published May 14, 2016 by

The Tower Restoration Project at St. Michael and All Angels, Steeple

The tower at Steeple has, like most historic buildings, suffered from the effects of the weather over the years. Unfortunately it has also suffered from the well-meaning, but misguided, efforts of man when sometime in the 20th century it was repointed with a sand and cement mortar. This mortar is impermeable and so prevents the solid stone walls from ‘breathing’. Moisture is trapped in the walls and can only escape through the inside face, disfiguring the decorations and, more importantly, causing damage to the internal woodwork and beams. This was the main conclusion of the Church Architect who was commissioned earlier in the year to assess the state of the tower.

We have therefore launched an appeal to restore the tower and hopefully make it good for another 500 years. In addition to repointing the whole tower with a breathable lime mortar some stonework and tower roof repairs are required. Inside the church, beams need to be exposed and repaired or replaced according to the degree of deterioration and damaged plasterwork replaced. To achieve these repairs full scaffolding of the tower and extensive internal scaffolding is required.

The total cost of the restoration is in the region of £150,000 and, whilst we would like to raise this daunting sum as quickly as possible, the work will be split into phases with the all-important pointing and external works being the natural first phase. These are estimated to cost around £80,000 and would at least prevent any further deterioration. Raising this sum is therefore our top priority.

I do hope that you are able to visit and appreciate our lovely and historically important Grade 1 listed church which dates from the 12th century. As you will see from the pages on this website it also has an interesting historical American connection in that Edmund Lawrence, whose family moved to Steeple in 1540, married Agnes, heiress of the Washington family and ancestor of George Washington, the first President of the Unites States of America. Evidence of this connection is seen in the stars and stripes of the American flag which is derived from the quartering of the arms of the Lawrences of Steeple and the Washingtons. In more recent years Steeple was presented with the Washington flag by the mayor of Washington, which hangs in the church today. We feel strongly about preserving our wonderful church and hope that you can support us.

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