Church buildings are like your house - they need regular maintenance, especially when they are 800 years old and Grade I listed, like the Church of the Holy Cross, Chiseldon!
All Church of England churches have to be inspected every five years; the architect’s inspection of Holy Cross in 2014 found several problems which the Parochial Church Council (PCC) had to remedy before the next one in 2019.
The most significant problem was rising damp. This caused deterioration of plaster and internal decorations over many years. If not dealt with, it would have caused lasting damage to the stone fabric of the building.
First, the thin concrete which surrounds the outside walls had to be removed, and shallow, gravel-filled trenches installed along most of the walls. These allow water to evaporate and not be trapped against the walls. Trenching was done by skilled voluntary labour.
The condition of the interior of the church had been made worse by a waterproof surface coating which was not allowing the stonework to 'breathe' as it should. Plaster had to be removed from the interior surfaces, replaced with new plaster and re-decorated with limewash, which allows stonework to 'breathe' and not retain moisture.
The trench work was completed 2017. Inside the building, most of the areas of failed plaster were removed. This allowed the exposed stonework to dry out and be re-plastered during 2018. Removal of the existing coating and re-decoration with limewash had to be done by specialist contractors and the church had to close durng the first three months of 2018, services being held in the church hall.
All the proposed work was agreed with the architect and approved by the Diocesan Advisory Council; it was carried out under the overall supervision of the architect and the churchwardens - Colin Wilkins and Nick Swannell - on a day-to-day basis.
The work was completed on time and the church re-opened on Easter Sunday, 1 April 2018. The total cost of the above work, plus the complete overhaul of the gutters and down-pipes amounted to £75,000 and the FoHC are proud to have contributed £16,000 towards this sum.