Ashley Courtney Architect

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King of Prussia

King of Prussia Award 2022, Highly Commended

November 24, 2022

I was very delighted to receive the Highly Commended King of Prussia Award for our recent work at St Andrew’s Church, West Dereham, in Norfolk. The award is a joint award between the Ecclesiastical Surveyors and Architects Association and the National Churches Trust, and was given for our extensive repair works to the chancel. The repairs included rebuilding the east window, and re-rendering the elevations. I was also pleased that Graham Pressley, the Churchwarden, also came all the way down to London for the occasion.

Details of the works can be seen on the Projects Page.

St Peter Church Coton

St Peter, Coton

January 25, 2022

New Rainwater goods and Drainage Repairs

St Peter’s is a glorious Grade I listed church with evidence of a Norman chancel. Unfortunately, it is suffering from a great deal of damp for a variety of reasons, and to cap it off the choir stalls had collapsed due to dry rot.

Following a successful application to the Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund, we were able to address these issues and make a number of improvements. This included carrying out a CCTV camera survey of the entire drainage system and realising it was completely blocked – no wonder the choir stalls had collapsed.

The works were quite extensive and involved replacing a number of failed drain runs. What we found was that the entire drainage system joined up into one pipe which then discharged through the boundary wall and onto the village green. At this point the churchwarden came out and showed us an old engraving clearly showing a village pond, and the outlet. All that is now required is to reinstate the pond!

Other works involved repairing the nave roof so it now has a watertight abutment detail with the tower, and repairs to the aisle roofs both of which had defects.

All in all St Peter’s should begin to dry out, and a well worthwhile project carried out.

Upwell Church

Upwell St Peter

January 25, 2022

New Rainwater goods and Drainage Repairs

Following a successful application to the Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund, we were able improve the defective rainwater goods at the east end of the chancel, and the Victorian drainage system.

Three C18 lead hoppers, including one to the vestry, were in a dreadful state and we were able to repair and reinstate them using a skilled leadworker. Unfortunately the lead pipes had been stolen a long time ago, and had been replaced in plastic on the chancel; but with no proper shoes and failed brick gullies the fabric at the east end, including inside, was always extremely damp.

Nobody knew the layout of the drainage system, but once we carried out a full CCTV camera survey, and after much jet washing, we established the original route discharging into the nearby river.

We replaced the brick lined gullies with new clayware, and the plastic downpipe for new cast iron, and now we have a fully functioning system at last.

Upwell St Peter is Grade I listed with a very fine angel roof and carvings.

Upwell Chruch 3
Upwell Chruch 2
Upwell Church 4
West Wratting Church

St Andrew, West Wratting

September 17, 2020

Rerendering of the Chancel

We have now completed the rendering and limewashing of the chancel and much of the crossing wall, and hope you will agree the result is truly impressive. 

Probably not since pre-reformation days has the chancel looked like this. At last the external render has been reinstated to the rubble flint and field stone walling, and in doing so protects the wall and facilitates it to dry out much more quickly than if merely pointed. This in turn means that dampness is held away from internal fixtures, and in particular timber beams and fittings  – preventing decay. The internal environment also becomes much drier and will therefore feel much less cold than we have become accustomed to.

Furthermore the limewashing of the external stonework staves off decay from lichens and micro-biological growth that leach acids and over time damages the stone, leading to endless stone repairs. Needless to say very little medieval external clunch stonework survives as a result of this neglect; and what’s worse is that we can no longer obtain local clunch anymore.

As I have said before this may seem a radical intervention, but I feel this is an imperative  in order for our rural medieval churches to have a viable future. 

West Wratting Church
West Wratting Church

St Mary, Bartlow

September 15, 2020

New Facilities

The installation of new facilities has now been completed and provides a much needed new kitchen and two new toilets, one of which is accessible. 

A redundant stable in an adjacent farmyard building has been converted. New openings were formed into the rear boundary red brick wall, directly onto the churchyard. One of the windows can be opened to form a hatch through which food and drinks can be served from the kitchen.

The external joinery has been designed in a traditional manner to fit in with its historic context.

St Mary’s is a beautiful Grade I listed church dating back to at least the twelfth century. Unusually it has a round tower, and inside you will find some impressive medieval wall paintings. Well worth a visit, and a short walk from the churchyard are the famous Roman tumuli of Bartlow Hills.