Churchyard happenings

In this month’s parish magazine, Rector Alan provides an update on the conservation work taking place around the church

Those who venture out to the rear section of the churchyard in this, and the following, month will see that the long section to the south and that to the east of the church has been fenced off so that renovation works can take place to the large memorial stones that line both sections. Presumably at some point in the distant path these so-called ‘ledger’ stones were gathered in this place in order to clear the ground of the churchyard itself; either for that, or for another, reason, they were there laid on a brick surround foundation and must once have looked very neat; though no longer. The supporting walls have long since collapsed in many places, creating a paradise for the local rat population to squat in and foray out from, as they do. A specialist contractor will carefully lift all the stones, rebuild the supporting walls, improve the foundations under the church office (which has a tilt to it), and then put everything back together again. We hope they will be finished by the end of June.

Also in the same area of the churchyard the summer months will see the start of a renovation projection to re-build a section of the eastern boundary wall, which marks the churchyard from the neighbouring flats. The wall has long been leaning and in a dilapidated state and, after some years of petitioning, the local council has now agreed to undertake the work. From July onwards, therefore, as one set of fencing comes down another will rise up. Re-building the wall will not be easy or quick, and a project of many months is anticipated. All being well, this section of the churchyard will look exactly as it does now from our side when all is completed, but it will be much better for the residents on the other, and will clearly reinstate this ancient and significant boundary wall to the churchyard.

And finally, whilst on the subject of things, we have been working on an idea for some time now to install a lighting scheme for the church tower. Working with a lighting design contractor (who are also the church’s electricians) we are aiming to light up the tower in such a way that its architectural features are picked out, rather than to floodlight the whole area. If the scheme seems workable we shall be inviting tenders for this project with a view to possibly having work undertaken towards the end of this year or early next year (everything always takes for ever in the life of things in churches!) As the surrounding area becomes more and more built up, so the visual presence of St Giles has been marginally diminished. So by seeking to highlight the tower we hope that the many people who will pour though our streets with the opening of Crossrail will have their spirits lifted and be reminded (please excuse the pun) of ‘higher things.’