St. Mary’s may be closed until Easter but while the congregation worships in other locations, the building is a hive of activity.
The team from Ellis and Co Ltd, the church’s historic buildings contractor, have returned to prepare for the installation of a new, more environmentally friendly, heating system. To do this they have had to lift the stone floor in the west end of the church in order to lay new pipe work. At the same time they have permanently removed a modest section of low grade woodwork at the west end, which has created a disproportionally larger and more flexible space as you enter the building.
Meanwhile Ellis’s are also making repairs to the historic carved pews and wooden panelling, some of which is in worse condition than previously anticipated. Last year younger members of their team learned new skills working with lead; this time its carpentry and joinery. Sol Morgan-Clarke who is currently on a Princes Trust course has been assisting Ellis and Co with pew repairs and alterations in the church, including helping to replace some of the rotten floor timbers. He’s progressing so well that the firm have offered him more work on another historic buildings project in the summer. Sol said:
I’m very grateful to Ellis and co for giving me the opportunity to work on a Grade I listed building like St Mary’s. It’s been a fantastic experience working alongside fellow carpenters who are very experienced in this type of work
Not all the pews can be repaired on site. Some have been taken to Ellis and Co’s joinery workshop in Shepton Mallet. Here, 16 year old, Adam Foxwell, is also cutting his teeth on the project. Adam is serving the first year of his apprenticeship and attends Yeovil College once a week. He has been helping the experienced joiners in the workshop repairing and piecing in new sections of oak on to the pews. Whilst doing this, he has been taking photographic evidence and noting down what he has done which will contribute to his NVQ level 2 in Carpentry and Joinery.
Hard Hat Tours.
If you’d to see the building during this exciting stage of the project and talk to the team from Ellis and Co., you can join a ‘Hard Hat Tour’ on Thursday 27th February. There is no need to book, the event is drop-in and tours will commence at 10.00 am, 11.00 am and 12.00 noon.