Ivychurch, St GeorgeThe complete rebuild of the West Window
The complete restoration of the west window. This is the only known example of a complete restoration of a medieval window in a parish church within the Diocese of Canterbury.
Scope of Project
After close inspection from the Conservator of Windows at Canterbury Cathedral and the Director of the Canterbury Archaeological Trust, it was reluctantly decided that a complete rebuild was necessary. A faculty was arranged and the task was carried out by Chichester Stoneworks of West Sussex. Heritage Lottery Funding was eventually obtained and as part of the overall project, it was decided to install basic kitchen facilities and a lavatory so that both the local community and visitors could benefit from the window’s restoration.
Reason for Involvement
The 550-year old window had weathered badly; this in addition to damage from a major lightning strike during the First World War and blast damage resulting from a V1 flying bomb during the 1939-45 conflict. Throughout the centuries, the window had been comprehensively ‘patched’ so that some parts were more ‘patch’ than original meaning that structurally, the integrity of the window was seriously compromised. Such was the concern that Heritage England placed St George’s on its ‘At Risk’ register.
November 2017 The complete project should have taken 33 weeks but delays caused by late delivery of stone from the quarry to the masons in Chichester and their difficulties with working on such a hard stone, meant that delays were inevitable. With the arrival of the hood mould, the masonry was finally completed on 17th November. Following this, the glazing was installed but it was not anticipated that this would take many days.
It is anticipated that the job will be completed by Christmas and an act of rededication will take place in the spring.
Budget and Grants
Initially, the church architect (Robert George) saw the window being restored using Chicksgrove Stone – a fine limestone from which Salisbury Cathedral is built. Initially, in order to cover this work, the RMHCT provided a generous grant of £40,000. However, Heritage England then insisted that the window should be restored using like for like, ie Kentish Ragstone from the only surviving ragstone quarry at Barming, near Maidstone. The stone was supplied free as the quarry was anxious to demonstrate that it was able to supply sufficient quantities of high grade ragstone which could be used in other major restoration projects of this type. As ragstone is a significantly harder and more difficult stone with which to work, the costings rose significantly and required a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The total project costs were £146,620. This sum included the new refreshment facilities and toilet and also funds for the production of a new church guide/ history booklet in addition to a permanent display board outlining the window’s restoration and the HLF’s role in its outcome.