Re Rendered Nave

Restoration of St Martin’s Church, Acrise

The initial plan for the restoration of St Martins is to re render the outside flint walls and re plaster and paint the internal walls. We have now managed to raise enough money to get us half of the way around the outside!

During the course of this Spring specialist craftsmen employed by a local company, Ecolibrium of Capel, have restored and re rendered the north wall of the Nave, which is now in stark contrast to the rest of the building. We hope shortly to continue work on the chancel wall.

A decision had to made with regard to the final render finish. When St Martins was built and for many centuries after, the flints would have been completely hidden with a lime wash. Today, most people would prefer the walling to be visually appealing, so the degree of exposed flint is a compromise.

Exposed Norman window in Nave

During the course of the work a previously unknown window of Norman origin has been exposed together with another opening on the lower elevation, the purpose of which we can only speculate about.

The nine hundred year old walls were built with flint rubble and a lime mortar. Describing these walls as “rubble” sounds derogatory but material choice at the time was dictated by availability and limitations of transport. The clear choice of material for St Martins was field flints from the neighbouring chalk downlands.

The process of building the walls was slow and laborious, probably taking place over several “seasons”. The irregular flints needed large quantities of mortar, which is very slow drying, particularly in wet and cool conditions.

In order to hold the wall together whilst it was being built, timber shuttering would have been erected using planks laid horizontally against the newly built courses of wall. Stakes driven into the ground supported them.

Once constructed the walls were plastered both outside and internally with a lime wash that would have completely hidden the flints.

Adjacent Chancel wall awaiting restoration

What the Victorians did for us!

With the ravages of the weather there has always been a need to maintain the lime wash and mortar and this is where the Victorians came in. They figured that cement would be an ideal solution. However, rendering over the flint with cement traps the damp, which in turn destroys the internal plaster.

So, whilst our ancestors had the best of intentions, we now have to carefully remove the cement and repair the old lime mortar which bonds the outside flints, together with replacing lost flint stones in the process.

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