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Heritage Project at St Stephens Church, Cornwall

Lead products used:
Midland Lead supplied the following:

• 5 tonnes of Code 8 Machine Cast Lead
• 20+ tonnes of Sandcast Lead

If you have a project needing expertise in lead used for heritage projects, then get in touch with us to discuss how we can help. Call us on +44 (0) 1283 224 555

The Project

Specialist Stonemasonry, based in Cornwall, were appointed to repair and restore a leaking roof at the Grade 1 listed St Stephen’s Church, which dates back to 1261, with the support of Chadburn Conservation Architect. The leaking roof was causing potential harm to both the roof timber structure and also the interior of the building which was listed on the English Heritage ‘At Risk’ Register. When the work is completed, the church will be restored to its former glory.

The two-phased restoration project started in November 2021 and will be completed later in 2022. The first phase was to replace the existing roof including reordering the lead roof coverings and repairing damaged timber. The work involves adjusting the roof falls and box guttering, using sand cast lead on the main roof slopes and machine cast on the box gutter.

Phase two of the project will include creating a level entrance into the church for better accessibility, a toilet within the building, a kitchen and refreshment area and a local heritage display.

Jonnie Starr, owner of Specialist Stonemasonry said; “The condition of the roof was deteriorating rapidly, so much so that English Heritage put it onto their ‘At Risk’ register. The work is being carried out with great integrity and we are using techniques that link back to the historic workmanship that was previously done in line with the last time it was restored in 1883. The lead itself had not deteriorated and has been removed to be recycled, but the detailing of the lead work had caused several areas along the long lengths of the bay to fail, causing water ingress.

“Working with the team at Midland Lead has been great as they understood the challenges we faced. We know we can rely on their expertise in producing high-quality lead products to the standard that we required – thank you to the whole team.”

Jeremy Chadburn, the owner of Chadburn Conservation Architect, added: “The priory to which the site is attached dates to around 940 and some of the standing structure is Norman, it is a significant and beautiful Church steeped in history. The roof is rather unusual as the parapets are quite thick as the walls are built into the roof itself. This posed a challenge in this case because there are thick areas leaving a lot of exposure to rain, and this increased the chance of water ingress. We solved this by wrapping the parapets with lead work to reduce this problem from happening again.

“Another challenge was the depth of the gutter from the previous restoration in 1883 which were not sufficient to handle the increased storm rain that we now get. We made some adjustments to the depth of the gutters and addressed the areas that were letting in water. This project will breathe new life into the church, once the roof repairs are completed the second phase will be to introduce security measures including an intruder alarm for the roof and a café for all to enjoy.”

The project has been grant funded by the Historic England’s Covid Recovery Fund along with funds raised by the local community.


Restoration project

More than 25 tonnes of Midland Lead’s traditional sand-cast lead products have been used for St Stephen’s Church, and the craftmanship of Specialist Stonemasonry’s work will provide the finished look, sympathetic to the historic architecture.

St Stephen’s Church serves one of the largest parishes in Cornwall and has been a focus for worship and community activity for well over 750 years. A much-loved place by all and its preservation was closely supported by the surrounding parish.

The restoration of the roof is an important project that will ensure that the building will serve communities in the future.

Kyle Hazeldine, Sales and Marketing Manager at Midland Lead said; “It has been a real pleasure to play a part in supplying machine cast and sand cast lead to sympathetically repair this beautiful Church. Seeing a building like this being restored to its former glory, ensuring it is water-tight for many more generations is a real privilege.”

Key Facts…

  • This historic Grade 1 Listed building dates back to pre-Norman times
  • the building which was listed on the English Heritage At Risk Register
  • Sand-cast lead was used to help restore the roof in line with how it would have originally been constructed
  • The structure was complex and had unusually thick parapets which will be wrapped in lead to prevent water ingress
  • More than 25 tonnes of lead will be used
  • The work began in November 2021 and will be completed later in 2022.
  • A sophisticated intruder alarm has been installed on the roof and smart water applied to the lead.

About Specialist Stonemasonry
Specialist Stonemasonry is an artisan lead historic building repair and conservation company based in Cornwall. They have many years of experience in Church repair, and industrial heritage conservation including; bell frame repair, lead sheet roofing and detailing, traditional roofing, carpentry, structural timber repair and lime plasterwork. The company provides multi-disciplined skilled work in historic building repair using traditional techniques and is also involved in a number of modern eco build projects.