St Sylvester’s Church, Chivelstone
St Sylvester’s Church in Chivelstone has a rich and long history. The earliest reference to Chivelstone is in the Domesday Book, where it is listed as one of three manors, all held by Juhel de Bretagne, Lord of Totnes. The exact date of consecration is unknown, but a church has definitely stood on this site since the end of the 13th century. The tower and chancel are part of an older structure, but around 1536 the nave and aisles were rebuilt.
The church has weathered well over the centuries but as is the case for all buildings of a certain age, the creaks and groans of the passing years has taken its toll. To address this, a stalwart group of parishioners secured funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund to manage the repairs and restoration of this historic and beautiful place of worship.
Following the Lottery Grant and various other fundraising, the parish group appointed Westcountry Stonemason as the main contractors and the repair and restoration works began in January 2021.
The list of restoration works was extensive and would involve cleaning the medieval pulpit (carved from a single piece of oak), stabilising, underpinning and rebuilding the front walls, partially rebuilding the vestry wall and repairing the cracks and repointing the main body of the church and its tower with lime mortar.
Immediate repairs were required to halt water ingress in the tower and main walls. This would involve extensive repairs to the South Porch and South windows, and the replacement of the cast iron rainwater system. A job which required specialist materials supplied by cast iron rainwater specialists, Metal & Glass Ltd.
Following a site visit, Metal & Glass were able to supply Westcountry Stonemasons with all the materials required for the replacement of the Church’s rainwater system, including specially moulded gutters, pipes and bespoke stainless steel brackets. In addition to the guttering and pipes, Metal & Glass Limited were able to provide a number of hopper heads including a large 762x235x200mm rectangular design for the Bell Tower. Other bespoke pieces included 316 stainless steel gutter brackets, plinth offsets and a 1250mm projection side offset.
All designed specifically to match the original design and satisfy the local conservation officers.
Whilst St Sylvester’s Church has stood the test of the British weather for centuries, it is well documented that the UK’s climate is becoming wetter.
With the changes to the UK climate in mind, La Page Architects decided to uprate the capacity of the rainwater system to build in greater resilience to what is likely to be a much increased amount of rainfall over the next 100 years. Whilst it was essential to retain a cast iron rainwater system they were able to specify a larger 150mm x 100mm moulded gutter profile which was supported by 150mm x 100mm rectangular rainwater pipes. With the guttering providing a flow rate of 2.2 litres per second and the pipes 15.2 litres per second, the system will be able to remove the rain effectively and keep it away from the fabric of the building.
With works now nearing completion Westcountry Stonemasons has successfully and sympathetically restored St Sylvester’s Church – a task which will preserve the building into the next century and beyond.
Natasha Johnson from Westcountry Stonemasons said: “We are very happy with the service provided by Metal & Glass; the whole process from quoting through to order, delivery and aftercare was easy and efficient. Any queries were handled promptly and we received constant communication throughout. The products look great and the clients are very pleased. We look forward to working with Paul and the Metal & Glass team on future projects.”