Oxted’s renovated church walls get a blessing from the Rector

Four years after St Mary’s Oxted Heritage Trust launched an appeal in 2014 in order to preserve the Heritage of the Grade 1 Listed St Mary the Virgin Parish Church which for over 900 years has been central to the life of the community.

Repairs were  required to the walls where the stonework had deteriorated and consolidation and conservation was urgently required to the historic building. 

With the support of the local community, a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund and other grant making bodies over £200,000 has been raised for this project to date.

St Mary’s, following the necessary consents and a tender process, appointed PAYE Stonework & Restoration Ltd for the first phase of the works which were started in March of this year and completed on time and on budget in July.

The first phase costing some £135,000 included the repair and restoration to the stone work to the north and south walls of the Chancel, making good the east wall and raising the pathway in front of the main porch entrance to make the entrance accessible to all.

As part of the process it was necessary to accommodate an endangered population of swifts during the renovation works ensuring their nesting sites remained unobstructed as they returned from Africa in April.

The second phase is to provide a new glass entrance door at the porch entrance in front of the historic oak door entrance at the back of the porch. Once this is completed phase 3 will be pursued to reorder and redecorate the church interior.

The completion of the first phase was marked by an open day at St Mary’s and the blessing of the newly rendered and renovated walls by the Rev Andrew Rumsey, rector of Oxted, and other members of the church and Mr Rumsey said: “We are thrilled that we have received widespread support from the local community in our efforts to safeguard Oxted’s oldest building for future generations. We also want to open the church for wider community use to ensure it becomes a unique resource for all. To this end, we also hope to refresh the church interior, so that it may be fit for the purpose of a wide range of community events, like the recent successful pop concert with Chris Difford and talk on understanding the teenage brain.”

Tandridge District Councillor Martin Fisher, Chairman of the Heritage Trust, said: “We are delighted with the outcome of the works not only has the church building been made sound but the new rendering has significantly enhanced the appearance of the building”

Photos show : 2017- Councillor Fisher, Catherine Hough, churchwarden and Tim Francis a member of the project group, examining a section of wall where the render had “blown” and the stonework underneath needing urgent attention.

2018- The Rev Rumsey, Councillor Fisher and Catherine Hough in front of the renovated and newly rendered church wall.

Mr Rumsey conducted a short service at the new walls, attended by members of the church, and Mr Fisher and East Surrey MP Sam Gyimah, before he blessed the new look walls.

Photos by kevin black

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