St Cuthbert’s Church Roof Repairs


“The PCC and parishioners of St Cuthbert’s Church, Kentmere, would like to thank all those who supported the appeal to raise funds for the re-roofing of the church. This was brought to a successful conclusion in October 2016. It was a huge project for this small rural parish, costing some £225,000 in total. We are all very grateful for the support of the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund who gave us almost 50% funding and the maximum possible under that scheme.

We are hoping to build on information that has come to light during the roof repairs and to develop our knowledge of the history of the church and its surrounding community. Dendrochronology analysis of its main timbers indicated that the present structure was built in the very early 1500s, but little else is known of church records around this period.”

On behalf of St Cuthbert’s PCC.
November 2016

Restoration Work

The work to restore the roof of St Cuthbert’s Church at Kentmere started on March 7th 2016. The work included the complete removal and replacement of the slates and a number of timber members from the supporting structure which together with a new membrane and gutters to put the building back into a good state for the next 60 years at least.
The work continued until Autumn 2016 and during that time the church was swathed in scaffolding and protected throughout by a ‘tent’.

The main contractor was Heritage Construction Restoration Ltd with Robinsons Preservation Ltd being responsible for the timber work. Both of these contractors are renowned specialists in this type of project. They were under the guidance and management of Mike Darwell, of John Coward Associates – Architects, who is well qualified and experienced for dealing with this type of work on Listed Buildings. He had already been working for over a year on this project with the Parochial Church Council’s team. Throughout the duration of the work the church building and the surrounding scaffolding were maintained as a secure environment with no public access. Following the repair of the roof, the building was rewired before redecoration.

The church was closed throughout the period of the work but the graveyard could still be visited outside the scaffolding envelope. During this time all regular services were held in the The Kentmere Institute. Following the work, the first service held in the church was  on Sunday 15th January 2017.

Church exterior with security cladding, scaffolding and ‘tent’ enclosure


Roof rafters (spars) and purlins to be retained

There are gaps where defective materials have been removed for replacement with new material. The ‘horns’ of the rafters on the far side of the ridge line are the original, but decayed and unusable, mortice joints to take the pegged tenons of the companion rafters now removed from the near side.

A typical example of the very old timbers

They were still of adequate strength in spite of a history of reuse. They were most probably salvaged originally from some other building centuries ago (as demonstrated by nail marks, mortice and peg locations). Some rafters have been used as many as three times!


Old ridge tiles cut to inspect the extent of delamination defects

The rear two pieces show sections delaminated and unusable, with the small piece on end the only bit still intact, but also unusable due to being too short in length. All the tiles will be replaced as none were without this defect.

Looking along the roof line on the north side with a new purlin in place

Old rafters which once supporting a lead roof can be seen in lower centre as inverted ‘t’ sections; they now support the ceiling in the Nave. These date from well before mid 17 th C with the rebates housing the original timber plank decking on which the lead was lain. On the upper right are slates stacked for re-use.


Looking west along the ridge line to the tower

The ridge timber in the first bay is due for replacement. Four other purlins in this particularly dilapidated bay have already been replaced. The foreground is the stonework of the east gable.


Line of south roof lower part

The distortion of the wall plate can be seen by its twisted and curving line. This has been the cause of water ingress in recent years due the resulting misalignment of the gutters. The wall plate will be replaced and realigned in line and level. The broken slates in the foreground are part of the west gable wall head .


A typical rafter from the north side of the roof being load tested to failure

This was to provide assurance of the strength of the old timbers which are being retained; it passed with distinction!

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