St Mary’s Church, Upper Street

Restoration of the portico frieze

The first recorded church on the site was erected in the 12th century. In 1751 it was demolished to make way for a new church with a semi-circular portico at its western end. After a fire broke out in 1902 the church's portico was rebuilt in Portland stone in neo-classical style, designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield. It is balustraded and the central frieze shows a scene from the Nativity. The church was bombed in 1940 and much damaged. All the eastern part of the church except the steeple and portico was rebuilt in Georgian style in the 1950s (designed by Seely & Paget). The church's portico is now in poor structural condition and the church was placed on the Heritage at Risk Register on the basis of urgent works needed. Iron cramps in the structure have corroded and continue to expand and damage the masonry. The mild-steel roof structure is corroding due to a leaking asphalt roof. Several localised sections of the stonework have been dislodged and in places the stone is spalling. In 2018 HOLT offered a grant to support the restoration of the portico and frieze. This will include the removal of the original structure and the ferrous cramps and replacement of both with new non-ferrous materials. The pediment masonry will be carefully dismantled, recorded, labelled and then reinstated with new stainless steel cramps. Missing Portland stone details and failed mortar will be replaced.

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