Notice from the Parish Council regarding work on the walls surrounding St Lawrence’s churchyard

The churchyard is classified as a “closed churchyard” as no new graves have been added for many years.  It is therefore the responsibility of the Parish Council.

The state of the walls has been of concern for several years and the Parish Council increased the Parish Precept 3 years ago to raise extra money which has been ring-fenced for necessary repairs.  The walls are listed and any work done on them has to satisfy conservation standards, requiring rebuilding ‘like for like’ so that, in appearance, they will be unchanged.

To meet these standards, the Parish Council has engaged relevant experts to monitor the situation, and sought advice from a range of professionals.  A contract to undertake the required work has been awarded to Historic Property Restoration (who carried out the extensive work to support the north wall of St Lawrence’s 9 years ago)  They have partially dismantled a section of wall next to the footpath on Monks Walk to find out how the wall was originally constructed and to reveal the root system of the tree.  The site was examined by the contractors, an engineer from Patrick Parsons, NCC’s Tree Officer, one of NCC’s Planning Team, and 3 members of the Parish Council.  Necessary next steps were agreed by all, in the interests of public safety.

The Parish Council, at their meeting on 6th September, accepted all of the expert advice and agreed the following course of action:

On the north side, further courses of the wall will be removed and Tree C (as shown on the plan) will be taken down to ground level and its base ground out.  The wall will be rebuilt using the existing stones to replicate what is there at present.

On the north west section where the wall bulges into the road leading to The Stanners, the wall will be dismantled and the large sycamore (Tree F on the plan) will be taken down to ground level.  This decision was taken with great regret because of the tree’s prominence and its aesthetic significance in the village.  However,  this work would result in exposing the magnificent copper beech which is currently overwhelmed by the sycamore and would greatly enhance the view of the Church.  It would also ensure a safe wall and roadway.  All stonework, including the arches built into this section, will be replicated in the reconstructed wall.

Other repair work will include re-attaching loose coping stones and renewing pointing where necessary.

Sally Black

On behalf of Warkworth Parish Council