Guarlford St Mary's

Church Fabric Report for 2011

A brief overview of 2011 covering the church fabric and churchyard

2011 will be remembered as the year that St. Mary's Guarlford became a victim of the wave of theft sweeping the country.

It started on 23 December 2010 when the church boiler house was broken into and the oil pipes severed in a botched attempt to steal the heating oil.

Thankfully, due to a swift response from heating engineers, Hunaban, all was repaired in time for the Christmas services.

On 28th March 2011 the oil tank lock was forced and another failed attempt was made to steal the oil, this time by siphoning.

Then during the night of 6 October 2011 the church bell, which had hung in the hornbeam tree opposite the church entrance since 1926, was stolen.

This bell was a replacement of the original which had hung there since 1905 - and so ended over a century of Guarlford history.

By ironic coincidence the hornbeam in question was dying and has since been cut back to its trunk. The church insurers agreed to a cash settlement to the insurance claim for the loss of the bell and this money is now reserved for future church repairs in the PCC accounts.

A major repair completed in November was to remove the old crumbled cement flashing on the north side of the chancel roof, itself a temporary repair from several decades ago, and replace it with lead flashing in keeping with rest of the chancel and nave roofs.

On 19th November 2011 thieves struck again and stole the ridge lead from the easily accessible small vestry roof causing damage to several roof slates in the process.

Then one week later the ridge lead was stolen from the also easily accessible porch roof.

The church uses the Smart Water anti-theft system recommended by the insurers but plainly it is no deterrent at all.

At the time of writing temporary repairs have been done to vestry and porch to make them weather tight and discussions are in progress with the church architect and Worcester Diocese on permanent repair by a suitable alternative to lead, bearing in mind that St Mary's is a Grade II listed building and its character must be preserved.

A faculty petition will be made in due course. On a more cheerful note, the Guarlford History Group has offered to fund replacement of the existing notice boards in the churchyard with a new combined notice board crafted in oak, the cost to be met from proceeds from the sale of The Guarford Story and The Guarlford Scene. The design has been approved by the Worcester Diocesan Advisory Committee and at the time of writing the Faculty Petition procedure for approval is underway.


Sourced from: The Grapevine magazine February/ March 2012