Repairs to the woodwork are complete.
The builders have started! After all the setbacks we have specialist
carpenters working to repair the roof timbers as the first stage of the
work. Once this is done and laths are fixed plastering will begin. Overall
the work should take 12 to 15 weeks depending on weather conditions. The
lime plaster that will be used is applied layer by layer, each one having to
dry before the next is added.
We had hoped to have the work done in time for Easter, but it has started
late, and so cannot now be finished until well into the summer: probably
early July 2017
The Faculty – permission to carry out the work according to the Architect’s specification – is now all but agreed. Our Architect has sent out his specification to four companies for tenders. The process should take about a month. The Paintings Conservator will come again during the last week of May to take steps to protect the medieval wall paintings during the repairs.
Once a contractor has been chosen and figures and costs are available application will be made again to the Heritage Lottery Fund to release the second stage of funding and begin work.
A few days ago a call came from a historian asking if he could come to Llangybi to tree ring date the roof timbers while they were open for access. Sometimes the timbers in a building are much older than the building itself having been re-used. It would all add to the story of our church’s history, and it turned out to be a fascinating visit.
Standing listening to the three people who came while they explored the roof timbers, several intriguing ideas emerged. Was this roof originally exposed, before the addition of the plastered ceiling? It was eventually agreed not. Wooden pegs holding the framework together were left protruding at each side of the timbers. They would have been neatened at the point end if they were to be seen. Another clue was the lack of any decoration or finishing of the timbers.
Carpenters’ marks were pointed out near the joints, which would have indicated the correct positions to the labourers during construction. Not numbers or Roman numerals, but what looked like tally marks to my untrained eye.
The laths which had held up the plaster were original to the frame, there being no other nail holes from previous work.
Sadly, none of the sap wood needed for tree ring dating was found, so we will not find out when the timbers were felled and prepared, or where they had grown.
A few weeks back, paper telltales were left to check for active beetle in the roof timbers. Today’s inspection revealed that there are live beetles eating their way out through the paper in one or two places creating small round holes.
The timbers will need to be treated with a remedy that will not create a hazard for the other wildlife in residence there.
The ancient timbers revealed by the recent removal of the plaster ceiling have plenty of evidence on them of invasions by woodworm and other insults that have happened over the centuries. What we need to know is whether those insects are still active.
One test is to paste tissue paper over some of the affected areas with flour and water paste; leave it to dry and then see if the creatures eat their way back out! Simple but effective. This process has been carried out and we await the results. Of course it will not tell us that there are no live infestations because the complete structure has not been treated, but it could indicate if there are.
In the meantime specialist building companies are being contacted for tenders, and preparations are being made for the Paintings Conservator to come back and complete the necessary protective work to the wall paintings before the final repair stages begin.
Much of the plaster has had to be removed from the ceiling in order to gain access to the roof structure and assess its condition. There was no access hatch, nor any means to safely enter and examine the roof space another way.
At first inspection the condition of the roof structure looked very poor. It is now undergoing a detailed assessment by our Architect who has reassured us that it is a repair job and not a total replacement.