Projects and client list

Church Conservation




Douai Abbey, Berkshire – Lantern Glazing Repair

Douai Abbey is a Benedictine foundation occupying a rural Berkshire site, comprising the Abbey Church together with other accommodations for monks and guests and a small parish church.

The Church was built in two stages. The Sanctuary, Aisles, Chapels and Chancel were built in 1928-33 to designs by J Arnold Crush; and the west end was constructed in 1992 – 93 to designs by Dr Michael Blee. The latter features a large 5-sided leaded lantern, framed in slender reinforced concrete mullions approximately 4m high. The monks had put up with leaks through the lantern from the start, the majority through the sides facing the prevailing wind but on occasion through any of the facets. On 29 November 2018 during high winds, the majority of the central panel in one of the west-facing lights was blown in, scattering glass across the floor of the Abbey.

Investigations uncovered a fundamental design flaw in the saddle bars, which were too slender for the wider lights and merely fixed into the glazing groove. With excessive flexing, the waterproofing had broken down, many copper ties were snapped, cames were cracked and one saddle bar had fallen to the floor in the past.
We developed a solution which retained the existing bars and solidly attached a second bar to the inside to stiffen it, grouted into new sockets, with spacing washers to deal with the presence of the copper ties. All panes were sealed to the leadwork with clear silicon mastic and new ties were added by drilling the cames and using a copper farthing as an external washer.

St Cecilia, Adstock, Buckinghamshire

St Cecilia is a Grade 1 medieval church, built of local limestone. The PCC approached us for a programme of repairs to mark the millennium, within a budget comprising a Heritage Lottery grant and their own funds.

Erosion of the soft limestone had reached a point where stone replacement was recommended for the tower buttresses and various window mouldings and parapet cappings; the tower roof was recovered in cast lead, repairing rotted timbers; and general stone areas were defrassed and repointed in lime mortar.

The works cost approximately £110,000, and were completed in 2000.

St Clement, Marston Road, Oxford

This grade 2* listed church was built in 1827-8 to the designs of Daniel Robertson, with a restoration in 1875 by E G Bruton. The church is built of pale yellow limestone, assumed to be the soft local Headington stone. In between projecting broad piers of ashlar and around the dressed openings there are expanses of rubble stonework. The tower and corbelled parapets are entire of ashlar.

In the 1960s all the ashlar and dressings were refaced in a hard render, as a cheaper alternative to new stone. The refacing includes moulded details such as the window columns, arches and hoods; even sculpted features such as the capital heads. Across plain ashlar surfaces, the render has been lined out to imitate the original stone courses. The fabric, however, is now inherently vulnerable. The absorbent stonework is encased in a water-resistant layer, and wherever the render cracks, water is admitted which cannot easily evaporate and is likely to ‘blow off’ more render.

A contract was let to Wells Cathedral Stonemasons to replace decayed parapet copings and repair failing renders and pointing. When properly inspected, it was decided to reconstruct much of the south aisle parapet with new Stoke Ground ashlar on the outside.

Originally, various patch repairs were scheduled to the render below, but it was agreed that instead a start must be made on taking it off and renewing the stonework, postponing other parapet repairs which are less urgent. The render is being taken off the piers and their quoins replaced, and the rendered hood moulds will be cut out and renewed in stone.

St Denys, Stanford in the vale, OXfordshire

These repairs focussed on the Chancel, which required urgent repairs to its lead roof and stained glass windows. The roof was renewed in sand cast lead, and the cast iron gutters were sent away to be factory coated.

Windows and parts of windows were completely releaded, the stonework repaired or replaced, and the glass cleaned. All the ashlar and rubblestone masonry was repointed in lime mortar, removing previous cementitious material.

St Francis de Sales, Wash Common, Berkshire

This Catholic church is, unusually, a barn conversion. There was an entrance area, but no larger than a lobby. Furthermore, the 2-storey wing with additional seating could not be accessed directly from the main entrance and was cut off visually from the main church space.

I designed a larger glazed extension with doorways into both parts of the church, and space to store missals and hymnbooks. The opening between the two areas was enlarged by removing two unused confessionals.

A new ramped access also met current DDA requirements.

St James, Abbots Walk, Reading

The Nave and Sanctuary of this church was E W Pugin’s first church design, from 1837. It was sympathetically enlarged in the 1920s to provide a splendid Lady Chapel, an east ambulatory, lobbies and narthex to the west and a choir gallery; and again in the 1960s to add a Sacred Heart Chapel to the north. The once richly decorated interior had been stripped and whitewashed, and the interior stone details were very stained with candle soot.

My quinquennial inspection had identified a range of repair needs to roofs, rainwater goods, masonry and leaded glazing. The new parish priest envisaged a transformation of the interior with a new decorative scheme and sacred art. A large project began to do both.

The new art had been commissioned from Ateliê de Arte Sacra São Bento, Brazil, and comprised a new suspended crucifix and murals for the Lady Chapel and St James Chapel.

I collaborated with architectural decorator David Renshaw to develop new schemes of stencilled decoration in the Sanctuary and Lady Chapel. The new general colour was matched from underlying paint flakes. All stonework was cleaned with the Cleanfilm system, and the oak and marble floor finishes were refurbished.

Cathedral Church of St Martin, Leicester

Following the cathedral architect’s quinquennial report, a grant of nearly £250,000 was awarded by English Heritage to carry out stone repairs and repointing to this fine Victorian church’s 200-foot spire.

The contract was tendered in July 2004 on a preliminary scope of work based upon a steeplejack survey and awarded to Linford Bridgeman Ltd of Lichfield.

Once the spire was fully scaffolded, each stone was examined and scheduled for repair or replacement. New crosses were carved where these had been lost from the lucarne gables, and the weathervane cockerel and cardinal letters were regilded. The spire and upper section of the tower were repointed inside and out, and the stonework was cleaned.

The works were completed in March 2006 at a cost of approximately £430,000. The works were preceded by a separate contract of internal works to improve access to the bell chamber and unblock the sound openings to the base of the tower, carried out by Church Conservation Ltd.

Cathedral Church of St Martin, Leicester: CHancel Roof

The cathedral architect’s quinquennial report found that the south slope of the Chancel roof was deteriorating, and an EH grant was secured to replace it in 2008.

Traditional long-strip copper roofing techniques were used. The works included re-forming the stepped copper parapet gutter, and lining the gargoyle chutes with lead and copper.

St Mary, Beachampton, Buckinghamshire

My quinquennial inspection identified a range of repair needs to roofs, rainwater goods, masonry and internal plasterwork. The contract was awarded to P R Alcock and Sons, and funded by a private benefactor.

St Mary, Cholsey, Oxfordshire

In this small but complex contract, work was carried to many parts of the church to tackle all the repair needs identified in my 2004 quinquennial report.

Repairs were done to the flint and limestone masonry, leaded glazing, a transept roof structure, and the polychrome Chancel floor tiles. Cast-iron rainwater goods were renewed, to new drains and soakaways. Lightning protection was provided to the tower, using an unobtrusive bare copper rod.

The works were carried out in 2006 by First Choice Construction Ltd, at a cost of approximately £60,000.

St Mary, East Hendred, Oxfordshire – Repairs

My quinquennial inspection identified a range of urgent repair needs to roofs, masonry and leaded glazing. The contract was awarded to Boden and Ward Stonemasonry.

All roofs were retiled by subcontractor Huggins Roofing, with most of the existing tiles reused but with a proportion drilled to enable every third row to be nailed. All the asbestos rainwater goods were replaced with coated aluminium, and many improvements were made to the leadwork detailing. Several windows were released by Glass Construction.

A private bequest allowed the replacement of a missing gable cross and spirelet finial. In a separate contract, Owlsworth IJP rebuilt and repointed some of the rubblestone boundary walls.

St Mary, Pyrton, Oxfordshire – Repairs

This beautiful country church is entirely faced in finely knapped, squared and coursed flint, generally dating from a substantial reconstruction in the C19. Individual flints were falling out, and large areas previously badly pointed in cement mortar were bulging dangerously.

All elevations were methodically examined and tapped, using a cherry picker for access, and areas were approximately defined for rebuilding or repointing.

Under the terms of a generous Heritage Lottery Fund grant, it was agreed that the Stage 1 investigations should comprise a large pilot project to repair the west elevation; and how that went would inform the specification for the remaining elevations. This work was tendered and the contract awarded to Owlsworth IJP.

The main phase was carried out by Boden and Ward, and also included underpinning the vestry extension and releasing several windows.

St Peter, Hook Norton, Oxfordshire

In November 2002 strong winds dislodged one of the pinnacles to the Tower. Remarkably, very little damage was caused, because the stone section with its weathervane landed on the Tower, only making a small hole in the roof and bending the vane shaft.

However investigations revealed that the other pinnacles were also insecurely built; and this project refixed all the pinnacles as well as repaired the minor damage.

The works were expertly carried out by Boden and Ward off a ‘crow’s nest’ scaffolding.

Grove Methodist Church, Oxfordshire

With 1000 new houses due to built in Grove, the fellowship were seeking ideas for making the most of the site around their chapel to add new accommodation and give the church building a more significant presence on Grove Main Street.

The heart of the proposed scheme is a spacious top-lit half-circular meeting area, from which all other areas are reached. This can be opened up to the main Hall if a larger space is needed.

The form of the new minor Hall is intended to accentuate the building externally, with its interior visible through the frameless glass bay window.

The Corn Exchange Theatre, Wallingford, Oxfordshire

This extraordinary voluntary enterprise rescued the town’s fine listed Corn Exchange in the 1970s, converting it to a theatre and cinema. Over the years since there have been two major improvements: reconstructing the raked seating for better sightlines and rebuilding the entrance with new toilets and a café area; as well as continual improvements to equipment. However, the C19 glazed roofs remained largely in their original state above the underlining of plasterboard and insulation, and the numerous leaks were being kept off the heads of the public by various internal gutters! The building was also poorly ventilated, hard to heat, and overheated in summer. In 2015 my clients commissioned a feasibility report into these problems, which also addressed the support of additional equipment in the future.

One interesting conclusion was that the fine cast iron roof structure was already overloaded by theatre equipment. A new roof would be heavier still; so the project included the insertion of new trusses on to which loads from gantries, fly rigging, services and the like could be transferred, leaving the cast ironwork simply to support the roof and ceiling finishes. Front of house, this was done with aluminium lattice trusses.

The glazing was replaced with a standing seam aluminium system, coated grey to resemble the glass. The glazing bars and all the cast ironwork were exposed to view internally, having been hidden wholly or in part. Our clients took the opportunity to renew and upgrade lighting and data services, replace carpets, refurbish seats and radically change the auditorium décor, to striking effect.


The site is a small estate about 17 acres in extent on Boars Hill, a wooded hill of mostly large residences and some open common land a couple of miles to the west of Oxford. The Green Belt status was a challenging planning context. Around the original, much altered, Victorian house, the Order has added other buildings to accommodate guests coming on retreat and day conferences. A 1960s timber framed wing in particular does not meet current standards.

An ambitious scheme has been developed to replace outdated buildings and refurbish the original house. As well as ensuite guest rooms, this includes a new refectory,
conference room, library, kitchens, a studio for online recording, and smaller meeting rooms for spiritual direction, prayer and recreation; all grouped around a new sunken courtyard with fruit trees. Landscape, biodiversity and sustainable energy improvements are also key elements of the designs.

The project received planning approval in January 2024, and the first phase should be completed in May 2025.

Ridgeway Christian Centre

The existing buildings were originally a Methodist chapel and ‘manse’, disused since the 1930s and subsequently converted to shop and offices respectively. The scheme united the two buildings with an entrance hall to the rear and created a main meeting room upstairs seating 150.

The conversion retained a shop unit on the ground floor, in which the community runs a café; and provided six ancillary rooms of various sizes.

The works cost approximately £250,000 and were completed in 1998.

Warehouse and Offices for Bonsoir Ltd, Yeovil, Somerset

This company manufactures and retails clothing, much of it through mail order, and needed new purpose-built premises. I was commissioned to design these as an extension to its sister company’s building, KBL Ltd.

The building accommodates the warehouse operation at two levels on the ground floor, with offices, sales and production space on the first floor. The project was let as a design-and-build contract to Acheson Construction. The works were completed in 2006 at a cost of approximately £1 million.

Tailors’ Workshop for Dege & Skinner, Savile Row

This traditional Savile Row Tailor was able to buy the lease of the basement and bring all its operations together in one building.

The back-of-shop area on the ground floor was extensively remodelled as well as the basement, the project included a new internal stair, staff restrooms and office space as well as tailoring areas with specially designed benches and storage units.

The works were carried out by Overbury plc, who overcame access challenges to keep the shop open for custom throughout the contract.

Client list

Feel free to get in contact with me if you’d like to discuss your next project