St. Oswald’s shortlisted for Conservation award

St Oswald’s Church has been shortlisted for the John Betjeman Award for excellence in building conservation. The tower restoration project was among only four churches shortlisted from 23 entries.

The John Betjeman award is given for repairs that demonstrate an excellence in the conservation of historic fabric and the promotion of traditional and/or innovative repair techniques.

The award, established in 1990 and named in honour of writer and conservation campaigner Sir John Betjeman, celebrates excellence in the repair of places of worship of all faiths in England and Wales, and is run by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB). SPAB was founded by William Morris in 1877 and has had many famous supporters including Beatrix Potter and John Betjeman.

The 2017 project to repair the tower has been to ‘un-do’ the damage caused when the original lime render was first removed in the 1890’s. The cement render was holding water within the stonework, and the cracks and falling debris from high level had become dangerous. The cement was replaced with a traditional lime mortar to the joints and to the rendered faces, protecting the walls in a way that allows the walls to breathe and dry out, rather like a Gore-tex jacket. Other repairs were also carried out to the roof, fixing of cracks in the walls and repair of the clock.

The award is always made to the building rather than to an individual, so this is a chance for the whole community to celebrate the quality of work completed in its building. The winner will be announced at the SPAB Members’ meeting on 13th July.

Chloe Granger, Crosby Granger Architects, Kendal