Update: December 2020 - Under the Floor...
Encouraging words from the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC)
Our Church conservation architect, Chedburn Codd, continues to provide the DAC with information supporting the exciting plans for the future of St Mary’s. In a communication from the DAC received earlier in December we received very positive comments;
“This is an exemplar re-ordering scheme. The DAC committee were impressed by the detailed consultation checklist and the applicant’s answers. All appropriate documentation has been submitted.”
We know there are a number of more minor points still to be agreed but answers to these will become clearer as more detailed work is undertaken.
One thing we are all interested in is “what’s under the floor?” and a summary of the work done by ContextOne can be found below. As far as the new external build is concerned it seems likely that a series of narrow supporting piles will provide the foundation for the steel structure of the extention, which will have the minimum impact on the archaeology of the churchyard. While inside the Nave the report helps in the design of the retractable staging and the new flooring.
Work is now going on in evaluating what and how heating should be provided in the church. Noting that the Bishop of Salisbury, Nick Holtam, is the Church of England's lead bishop on Environmental Affairs. He said: “Synod has set an ambitious target for the whole Church of England to respond to the urgency of the Climate Crisis by setting a ‘net zero’ target for 2030”. We have the challenge and opportunity of addressing these issues right now.
One major expense will be the refurbishment of the historic 1855 Sweetland pipe organ as it is moved to its new location in the south west corner of the nave, very close to its original position on a gallery under the west tower. The last major work on this instrument was carried out in 1979.
What’s under the floor in St Mary’s?
Archaeological investigations in preparation for the renovation project.
As part of meeting Planning Condition 8, Context One Heritage & Archaeology recorded the excavation of twelve trial holes and two boreholes at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, New Park Street, Devizes, Wiltshire in November 2020
St Mary’s is predominantly a combination of early 12th and later 15th century work, and must rank as one of the most important medieval Wiltshire churches. In the 17th century the chancel was probably re-roofed and in the 18th century a new gallery added, along with significant work to ‘beautify’ the churchyard in conjunction with several phases of levelling; this may explain the absence of pre 19th century burials. The 1854 restoration saw a succession of “improvement’s”, which included the removal of the box pews and galleries, replacing the pews and flooring, the installation of a central heating system, and construction of a vestry on the north side.