Sorry, a response to Mrs Cooper's letter (Part 52)

Martin & Mandy

This is an apology to Mrs Cooper and to everyone in Buntingford who has cause to walk past St Bartholomew's church and who, like me, finds builders mess hard to deal with. Of course I can't comment on the state of the graveyard as I understand this is down to the Church – so I will leave that one alone – but I really had to agree with Mrs Cooper's comments regarding the mud and mess we leave in our wake. I will try to explain some of the things that Mrs Cooper touched on.

Firstly we will not be closing the road, we were required to apply for, and received, permission to do so for long periods in the past but we have tried very hard to avoid doing this so that we weren't inconveniencing people. We have only had to do this on one or two days.

Published VersionSecondly we could apply for permission to put the skip on the road, as most other people do, but if we did this the roadway would be partially blocked inconveniencing walkers, riders, and visitors to the churchyard, more so than the position it is in now.

Thirdly the pallets – these are horrible – I'm so sorry – but they are there to prevent people driving over areas of ground where there are pipes close to the surface – and many people did – as soon as we had removed the soil to bury the pipes people parked there – including, distressingly for me, when all my daffodils came up - even the sight of those lovely flowers didn't prevent people driving right over them. I'd planted loads of bulbs as I hoped that cheery sight in spring would make up for the sight of the horrible hoarding.

Fourthly the area where we have put planks down was where visitors to the graveyard had parked off the side of the road and caused deep ruts during the exceptionally rainy weather we have had, over what seems like forever, but is only in reality in the last year or so… In fact, it seems to have rained since they announced the hosepipe ban – I don't think it's stopped for more than a day or two since then!

Fifthly – parking and builders – what can I say…. We do need to be able to access the site with builders and tools. Someone suggested when I was there on Sunday that we should get them to park their vans between the lime trees on our land – not realising that that are was never meant to be a roadway – the vehicles would crush the tree roots over time and badly damage or kill those beautiful limes. Anyone who has ever lived next to a building site will know that it's a nightmare and builders can be a law unto themselves – but they are soon finished – which brings me on to:

Published VersionSixthly I'm sorry we have taken so long. This is entirely due to trying to ensure that we preserve everything we can both inside and outside the church – this is not a building that can be rushed. We have taken on being the custodians of St Bartholomew's and whilst we have all the rules and regulations of listed buildings to adhere to both Martin & I also want to do the right thing for the building which almost always takes time. For example we have been trying to complete the lime pointing on the bottom 3 foot of the building and this has taken ages to dry even in the summer (??) weather we have been having. Everything creates its own delay which barrels up on the next item.

Finally – we have applied for, and got, planning permission to do the next stage of the project – this will hopefully be the beginning of the process of making the outside look better. Most of our efforts so far have been to work on the structure of the building to ensure its future – now we hope to be able to set in place the 'landscaping' so that in the very near future St Bartholomew's garden can once again look like a well maintained graveyard – something it has not been for many years now. One of the items we want to install in this process is a standpipe for the use of those visiting their loved ones in the graveyard, have a look for the blue water pipe sticking out of the ground along The Causeway. In the past the water tank of St Bartholomew's was the nearest source of water, and that unfortunately did not comply with the buildings listed building status!

Both Martin and I are deeply sorry for the chaos that we have been causing but hope people will appreciate that in the end the site will be treated to the same quality of care and attention that other parts of the building have seen from us. We used to joke when asked about a completion date that it was 18 months, now we really can see the light at the end of the tunnel and the 18 month joke does not really work anymore.

Please bear with us while we finish that which we have started and are then able to return the site to a condition of peace and quiet that it deserves.

For more history and information related to St Bartholomew's visit or follow us on Twitter @layston_herts

Published Version