When the St. Nicholas Church was destroyed by a terrible fire on Palm Sunday in March 2008, the village of Radford Semele, Warwickshire, was left horrified. Thankfully, a £2.2 million project headed by Reverend Martin Green is set to restore the damage caused by the fire and return the church to its rightful place at the heart of the community.
Reverend Martin Green explained:
“The project began when the church was burnt down by arsonist. Tragically, the whole church was destroyed and we were left with just a stone shell. Our aim was therefore to sympathetically rebuild the church whilst redeveloping it so that the facilities meet community requirements.
“The main body of the church will be a spacious, open area with chairs. As a highly flexible space, it may be used for a variety of activities including worship, exhibitions and concerts. The chancel area will have a moveable glass screen with a separate heating and lighting system, enabling it to be used as a separate room during the week. This is a project that has been designed with the community in mind, and we are therefore trying to make the building as accessible for the public as possible.”
The project began onsite in April 2012 and is scheduled for completion in April 2013. Main contractor for the project is Croft Building and Conservation, and the architect is Caroe & Partners.
One of the requirements of the village community was that the church was respectful of the original design. As a result, the church exterior has retained the original Victorian stone, whilst the south wall will still incorporate the old medieval stone and the tower its original 14th century stone.
Although the exterior of the church will be almost indistinguishable from the original, the interior will be changed dramatically. Featuring a more open plan design, the new church has also incorporated a new glass gable to the north side of the development that will in turn create a very different experience for visitors.
Further additions include two small single-storey extensions that will house offices and toilets. The tower will feature a gallery room for bellringers that will be accessed via a stone staircase, whilst the church will be served by a new underfloor heating system.
Decorative features will include new stained glass windows that have been designed by an artist who worked on the prestigious Westminster Abbey. A former Millennium window will also be restored, whilst two of the windows will be carefully etched to create a stunning visual feature.
One of the most important aspects of the project is the full restoration of the church’s clock. This element of the works will be carried out by Smith of Derby, who are recognised as the premier clock specialists for all diocesan regions.
Jane Arnold, Smith of Derby, said:
“Smith of Derby has serviced this clock at St Nicholas for many years. We were naturally invited to assess the damage.
“Sensitive work of this type is about confidence and trust. A limited number of specialist firms in all disciplines are on an approved list for dealing with devastating damage such as that caused by fire.”
Landscaping will include the replacement of grass in the church’s courtyard.
Steve Cooper, Croft Building and Conservation, commented:
“The site was saturated with important archaeological finds, including coffins and the bodies of the deceased. As a result, the archaeologists remained onsite for the first 5 weeks of the job and painstakingly recorded all of the finds before they were reburied by Reverend Martin Green. We will be delighted to see the church once it is completed.”
Reverend Martin Green added:
“We have had an excellent response from the community, and have managed to raise approximately £150,000 through generous donations and small grants from various funding bodies. As a result, we have compiled a priority list, and we will add back items from that list as any further funding comes in.
“I am extremely pleased with the work of Croft and Caroe & Partners, both of whom have been very helpful and conscientious. We have had an excellent, professional team working with us and I am just really pleased that the work has actually started and excellent progress is being made.”