Beginning of the Middle(Part 13)

Martin & Mandy

So the game is now on, unfortunately this part of the story is a little bit factual so light on humour or history but bear with us... First thing on the list is to get the site security sorted. Over the past two years we have been aware of numerous occasions where people have climbed into the nave and tried and break into the chancel or get up the tower. So far we have been lucky and only minor damage has been done, but we need to get the scaffolding arranged so that we can complete the plan for the stonework. Putting up scaffold without a perimeter fence, well, we might just as well hand over the keys! The big problem with scaffold is that you basically rent the stuff and this is fine if you are having the roof on your house changed and you know the job will only take ten days, but with St Bartholomew’s anything cPublished Versionould happen! I’ve been working on the basis that it’s going to take much longer and I don’t want to be landed with a hefty weekly rental bill for years. So I write the tender for the scaffold and Julian, our architect, produces a diagram that places the perimeter fence round the church carefully avoiding trees, gravestones and providing enough room to actually let stone masons work inside it, and I drop this in the post to five scaffolding companies, and we wait.

The sticky subject of trees still needs to be addressed, the planning and listed building consent had eighteen conditions attached to it but, surprisingly, none were to do with trees. From my original meeting with Malcolm from the council I know he is up for helping, so I arrange another site meeting with him and Phil from Newsons on a crisp Monday morning nice and early.

The meeting goes well and we look over the plans for the garage whose foundations have been changed to have an even smaller impact on the ground and hence the local “residents” and of course the tree roots. The original tree report identified nine dead trees and we deal with eight of them at a rate on knots - four need to come out because they are actually dangerous and the rest remain. We want to leave them all, but it’s difficult to argue the case for a tree that’s clearly 100% dead and rocks alarmingly when you push it - and that’s what the stump behind the Vaughan tomb is like.

We eventually come to good old 1877 which is the first tree in the avenue on the left, the one that’s dead at the bottom and very much alive and kicking at the top and we grind to a bit of a halt at this one. Still Malcolm and Phil prove their worth and a cunning plan is concocted that does not involve the word ‘felling’. What we decide to do is to reduce the weight in the crown of the tree. Basically the bottom of the tree is 90% dead but is quite solid and substantial - the thing that will finish it off is the weight of the crown, so once the leaves have fallen it’s in for a bit of careful pruning.

We also have a Yew tree very close to the tower which we need to protect from the scaffold, it’s got ivy growing in with the tree, and the solution we come up with is to remove the ivy and in effect fit a rubber band around the girth of the tree to pull it away from the tower. This will let us get the scaffolding in, protect the Yew and help it to flourish in the future. There is also a self seeded sycamore right next to the Yew that’s been growing like billio over the years and has basically grown over the Yew making the Yew grow even slower than normal. Plans for the sycamore vary from ‘leave it alone’ to ‘fell it completely’ so the Yew can have a chance, the choice in the end is to trim the overhanging branches off it.

We also need to get power to the site as well, so it’s off to EDF to get a plan together for that... A year or so ago I received an indicative quotation for delivery of power but it involved a trench across the rather nice lawn in the back garden of Gooseacre, so an alternative plan would be good if it’s possible. This all comes down to how far the pole where the transformer would need to be sited is from the church... There is another pole a little bit to the East of the first pole considered that we could use, but it’s another 20 meters or so away from the church.

Anyway the first time I had an EDF site meeting I had seven people come along to look at the job -this time I get one efficient and rather nice lady who turns up and wanders around with me, makes notes and takes some pictures Published Versionof the fields we need to cross.She departs with all the detailsto prepare the actual plan and produce the estimated price for the work (gulp)

Bore holes! That’s the way to get round being on the end of a very long water supply where the water dribbles out of the tap. Now Layston primary school has a bore hole, it might not be working anymore - but they are the closest bore hole to the church, so we know the technology works in this area. Odd things bore holes - you can basically drill a bore hole for water and extract 20 cubic metres of water per day, that’s about 20000 litres or 125 bath tubs of water, and you don’t even need a license to do it! Mandy does like a good bath or two :-) What you do need though is a survey to have a stab in the dark as to the likelihood of actually striking water without having to drill to Australia to do it. The survey actually tells you a whole pile of interesting stuff about the ground formation, and surprisingly has a fair guess at how far you need to drill - in the case of St Bartholomew’s that will be 90 odd metres into a pile of chalk. If you’re interested in the full survey result it’s on the web site in the documents section.