Crumbling medieval stonework replaced

Stonemason Ian Robb working on the west wall at St Mary de Haura Church
Stonemason Ian Robb working on the west wall at St Mary de Haura Church

STONEWORK that has been crumbling for more than 20 years is finally being replaced.

Bigger projects have taken priority over the years at St Mary de Haura Church, a landmark building in Shoreham, but it is now the west wall’s turn.

Sussex Flint and Stonemason Co Ltd has been working at the church, in the town centre, for the past five weeks and expects the project to take a total of two months.

An appeal for £20,000 has been launched to fund the works, to add to the £7,500 secured from grant funding.

Stonemason Ian Robb said the majority of the work was replacing worn bricks and repointing with lime mortar, as it would have been originally.

He has been using stone specially sourced from Caen in France and moulds have been taken from the old stones so that new carvings can be made.

There has been a lot of damage caused by the salt air but it is a lot more solid now

Stonemason Ian Robb

Mr Robb served a five-year apprenticeship at Chichester Cathedral more than 30 years ago and has since worked on most of the churches in Sussex.

He said: “We are putting in new stonework in the damaged areas, including completely cutting out and replacing the area around the window.

“A lot of people use cement, which is not good because it is harder than stone. You have to use lime mortar or the load is wrong.

“Some of the stonework will be shelter coated in lime wash, to help protect it for years to come, and we are using lime mortar to prevent erosion.

“There has been a lot of damage caused by the salt air but it is a lot more solid now. It has been quite a straightforward job.”

Churchwarden Ian Tompkins said the stonework had definitely been affected by the weather.

“It has been going off for 20 years or so but bigger projects have taken priority,” he added.

“There is constant work needed for the restoration of the church and we have been told the tower will soon need attention, as no major work has been done on it since 1962.”

The west wall was built at the end of the 17th century, using masonry from the medieval ruined nave. It contained carvings from the original west door, which are now being renewed as it had almost worn away.

Masonry repairs are also being made to the upper windows on the south side of the south transept.