Saturday, 5 April 2014

From the Friends newsletter Spring 2014

SEAL CHURCH TOWER

Seal Church tower is visible from many places in the surrounding area. It is a much loved local landmark, added to the simpler Medieval building in the sixteenth century. Now it not only provides a place from which to fly our flags, but also houses the bells and the Victorian clock mechanism. A small door inside the church gives access to the tower rooms via a very narrow spiral staircase. Alas, this is unlit and has no handrails, so insurance rules mean we can’t offer tower tours.

Records suggest that the tower was completed in 1529, just as the English Reformation was beginning to take hold. (The other significant event of 1529 was the start of the legal proceedings which led to the divorce of Henry VIII from Catherine of Aragon, which led eventually to the separation of the English church from the Church of Rome.)
Back in Seal, though, many ordinary people would be much more aware of the changes to their own local church as the tower rose on the skyline.
I don’t know what Tudor scaffolding looked like – presumably it was wooden – but later this year we’ll get a chance to imagine that scene as more modern scaffolding goes up to provide access to some stonework on the tower which needs repair. It will take a few weeks, and we hope it will be underway by mid-September or October. It shouldn’t affect services or events in church, but it will obviously be very noticeable, so I thought I’d let you know about it in advance.

While we’re up there…
While the scaffolding is up it seemed like a good moment to refurbish the clock face, which is looking rather faded and worn, as the picture on the right shows.  The letters and hands will be re-gilded (alas, nothing so simple as a quick dab of Dulux …) and some other minor maintenance will be done. It has been on the “to do” list identified in quinquennial inspections for a while, but the cost of scaffolding just to do this made it unjustifiable on its own. This is the perfect moment, though, and if we miss this chance, who knows how many decades – or even centuries - it will be before scaffolding is needed again?

The stonework repairs and scaffolding (costing £18000) are being funded by a grant, but we need to raise the money for the clock refurbishment ourselves. Seal Village Association has kindly given us £1000, but that still leaves around £2500 for us to find. We are hoping that local people who enjoy seeing the clock might want to contribute to this fund, and we will be appealing to them to help us out during the late spring and summer. If you’d like to contribute, please send whatever you can to the Treasurer, marking your donation “Clock Face” as the picture on the right shows. The letters and hands will be re-gilded (alas, nothing so simple as a quick dab of Dulux …) and some other minor maintenance will be done. It has been on the “to do” list identified in quinquennial inspections for a while, but the cost of scaffolding just to do this made it unjustifiable on its own. This is the perfect moment, though, and if we miss this chance, who knows how many decades – or even centuries - it will be before scaffolding is needed again? The stonework repairs and scaffolding (costing £18000) are being funded by a grant, but we need to raise the money for the clock refurbishment ourselves. Seal Village Association has kindly given us £1000, but that still leaves around £2500 for us to find. We are hoping that local people who enjoy seeing the clock might want to contribute to this fund, and we will be appealing to them to help us out during the late spring and summer. If you’d like to contribute, please send whatever you can to the Treasurer, marking your donation “Clock Face”

You can download the Spring Newsletter here to find out more about plans for this year.

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