The bells of St. Peter’s Church in Chapel Street will have to remain silent until into 2019 in order to allow the new plaster ceiling to become completely dry and stable.
St. Peter’s is Congleton’s Civic Church and the congregation has raised £291,000 with the help of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Town Council, the Inclosure Trust, other grants and individuals in order to restore the 18th century nave ceiling. As the old ceiling plaster was taken down it became apparent that only its inherent strength after 275 years had been holding it in place: the laths were brittle and riddled with woodworm, and the main ceiling timbers so eaten by woodworm that over 30 have had to be replaced on all sides of the ceiling. All parts of the flat and curved nave ceiling have been removed except for a limited area around the central decoration, from which the chandelier hangs. All pieces of newly exposed or newly fitted wood are being woodworm treated. The centre decoration of 18th century plaster, has been fixed to major ceiling timbers, and it will be given minor repairs where necessary. Three coats of lime plaster are being applied finishing with a fine skim coat containing no horse hair. Lime plaster allows the building to breath. Bell ringing will be suspended during and after plastering as it gently rocks the roof and ceiling timbers. After the plaster has had 12 months to cure and set hard new mineral wool insulation will be put in place and the bells will ring out in celebration!
St. Peter’s will be open as part of Congleton’s Heritage and Antiques Festival and the national Heritage Open Days on September 7th and 8th 2018 with displays about the history of the church and its links with the life of the town, artefacts, information about the work which has been done and the future vision. See the time capsule found in the roof. There will be talks, children’s activities and refreshments. Admission free.
On Saturday 15th September the Macclesfield Society of Recorder Players will perform in the church at 7.30pm.
For more history and heritage information about the church, click here.