St Marys Church, Honley

Sector: Ecclesiastical

Main Contractor: Anderson Marriott Decorators

Architect: NPS Group

• Lime Plastering
• Fibrous Plaster Mouldings

St Mary’s church at Honley, near Huddersfield, was constructed in 1873 on the site of an earlier church known as ‘Old Peg’ which dated back to 1759.

Wakefield-based property consultants NPS, who masterminded this conservation project, called on Ornate Interiors to address the substantial problems posed by water-damaged internal plasterwork and arches suffering stone decay. The solutions needed to be both sympathetic to the interior of the church and long-lasting. Using lime plaster was really the only way to restore the building properly, because this natural material allows the fabric to breathe and remain damp-free.

Lime sets, or cures, by the process of carbonation, which can take as long as twelve months to complete fully. Initial setting times are affected by a number of factors including impurities in the lime, the background to which the lime is applied and the environment. Approximately one week had to be allowed for between coats. Communication with following trades was essential during this time as the natural curing process of lime cannot be dictated to by programming.

The composite of the mixture can vary from project to project, but at St Mary’s it was generally two parts sand to one part lime with a certain amount of horse hair allocated for every cubic metre. The horse hair was introduced to the lime/sand mixture about 24 hours prior to application as the alkali lime will weaken the hair by attacking the protein.

First the original damaged plaster was hacked off and the stonework cleaned. New lime plaster was then applied directly on to the stone in three coats, allowing for dubbing out where required. New fibrous plaster arches matching the original were manufactured in the Ornate Interiors workshop and installed in the Clerestory. The renovation of the church took 16 weeks to complete with the £80,000 required for the work raised by its churchgoers/congregation.

“It is important that we protect places of worship such as ours by using the very best skills and solutions available. If we had cut corners in terms of the plastering then we would have paid for it further down the line.”
The Reverend David Barnes (Vicar at St Marys)

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