Rebuilding a lime mortared wall at Discoed
St Michael’s Church, Discoed, Powys Wales
We received a phone call from David Hiam, churchwarden of St Michael’s. David explained that St Michael’s had lime mortared walls which were falling down. We met David in the churchyard to see if any sections of the wall were appropriate for running a training course on (below shoulder height and away from a road). We identified 2 sections that needed dismantling and rebuilding so we decided to call Keith Jones who had led previous lime mortar courses for us. The benefit of running a course is that local volunteers receive training for free and the church has its wall repaired for a fraction of the cost of using a contractor.
The larger wall was 12.5 m long by 140cm high.
The smaller wall was 4m long and 80cm high.
Keith estimated that it would take 12 volunteers around 2 weekends to do the work.
Lime mortaring needs to be done in the spring/summer/early autumn so that it can start to ‘cure’ before the frosts arrive – it was already summer so we had to get our skates on!
12.5m stretch in need of rebuild
After doing the site visit and risk assessment we advertised locally for volunteers.
We used the parish magazine, posters and the local newspaper.
Over 50 people rang up for the 26 places we had.
We confirmed with the Hereford Diocese that a faculty was not needed as we were replacing like with like.
There was so much to do we decided to take the large wall down and remove saplings and roots before the course. Local church members came and did this in order to save time during the training weekend.
We did not dismantle the small wall. Delicate wall plants such as spleenwort and ivy leaved toadflax were put to one side to replace back on the wall once it was rebuilt.
On inspection some of the stone had disintegrated so more was ordered from the local quarry – ensuring a match to the existing stone. Tools were organised.
The trainer mixed the mortar locally and brought it on site with a trailer.
Volunteers learning on the job
Lime Mortar £400
Professional fees for trainer x 6 £600
Stone from local quarry £456
Results and Benefits
Both walls were rebuilt over the 2 weekends.
26 people received free practical training on how to repair lime mortared walls.
St Michaels saved over £4,000 compared to the cost of paying a professional to repair the walls.
It was great fun and many local people met each other for the first time.
Large wall repaired
Issues and Lessons Learnt
With free courses a few people often drop out at the last minute. We always have a good reserve list with contact numbers to ring on the day.