Our programme of free autumn events to provide training for anyone helping to look after places of worship is beginning to come together. We’ve got our launch in the North East on 17 September 2014 at St Andrew’s Hartburn. This will be run by our project officer Alaina Schmisseur with sessions on how to do a maintenance audit for your building and developing a maintenance plan from James Innerdale, our Technical Officer.
There are still a few places left for our Grants and Funding Workshop in Lincolnshire on 23 September 2014. This will provide you with everything you need to be able to
prepare a successful grant/funding application for your place of worship, whether it’s for repairs, or for a major re-ordering project. And our events in Dorset and Somerset will kick off with a Faith in Maintenance training course in Wells on 29 September, followed by more events to come in October and November.
Our major event in the autumn will be our first annual Maintenance Co-operatives conference timed to coincide with National Maintenance Week. This will be on 21 November 2014 at the Merchant Taylors’ Hall in York and will include maintenance surgeries, expert speakers and walking tours round York. Booking will open from the end of September and we’ll post more details once we’ve finalised the programme.
You can find details of all our events on our website where you can also find the beginnings of a project toolkit to help anyone who’s looking after or helping to maintain a place of worship. You can already download a template to help you assess the condition of your building, and a glossary to help you with technical or architectural terms if you are not familiar with them. We’ll be adding more resources as we develop them.
St Mary’s church, part of historic C12th Lanercost Priory just north west of Carlisle has recently completed a major project to repair and conserve their beautiful dossal which was designed by William Morris in the late 1800s and embroidered by Mrs Bulkeley, wife of the then vicar of Lanercost, working over five years with Mrs Chapman and Mrs Dodgson, widows of the two previous vicars. The dossal, a 24 foot textile hangs behind the altar and was being eaten by white spot spider beetle and possibly mice. A big fundraising effort followed by months of careful conservation and cleaning (which included the textile travelling to Belgium for flatbed suction cleaning) saw the dossal repaired and returned in all it’s glory to it’s original location in April 2013.
A careful regime of monthly cleaning around the dossal has been instigated to make sure there are no crumbs of food or provisions which attract the white spot spider beetle and other wildlife which could pose a threat to the delicate embroidered textile.The area is also monitored for damp which could cause mould and accelerated decay.
Lanercost Priory and church hosts a popular festival for 2 weeks at the end of June each year. As this involves construction of staging in the area beside the dossal it is taken down during the festival and stored safely out of harms way in a specially constucted ‘dossal box’.
The ‘Dossal team’, headed up by local volunteer Christine Boyce, is now looking for some more volunteers to help with the monthly and annual care of the dossal.
To find out what was involved I joined the team on 19 June for the annual putting away of the dossal before the festival. The process included careful removal and hoovering of the dossal and its adjacent carpets, checking for any signs of animal or damp damage before rolling it up and fitting carefully into its dossal box which is monitored for moisture to ensure optimum storage conditions.
It was a lovely practical and sociable day and a rather a thrill to handle an actual piece of William Morris textile – albeit very carefully and with gloves on. Sadly I wasn’t able to join the team to rehang it after the festival and this is one of the things that Christine is looking for more help with – a day’s time in mid June and again in early July to help with the putting away and taking out of this wonderful historic fabric.
It is through the ongoing care of the volunteers that this historic art work can still be displayed in situ in its original home rather than ‘boxed in’ under more museum display style conditions. If you are interested in finding out what’s involved in helping with the annual putting away and taking out of the dossal, or in other ways you coud help please contact Christine Boyce at firstname.lastname@example.org.