WHEN the mince pies, mulled wine, and madding crowd are getting
too much, take time to walk around the outside the church.
You may seem to look for Christmas angels, but you will really
be preparing for a different kind of white presence.
With our late-autumn mildness, many trees have been late with
their leaf drop, and your bi-annual gutter-clearing may now be
compromised by leaves in the wrong places. Your targets are the
hopper heads, parapet gutters, and surface-level drain tops - it
may take only a leaf or two to compromise their ability to lead
away the winter water.
Snow is exceptionally bad because of its ability to first
accumulate, and then melt in one great rush. Your gutters,
downpipes, and drains need to be ready, or the melting snow may
back up and flow into the roof between the tiles and slates. It can
cause untold amounts of damage with very little warning. At ground
level, a blocked drain can also result in water heading back in to
the church walls, and giving them a soaking that damages internal
plaster. So brush out those last leaves and twigs.
If you have had no autumn gutter- and drainpipe clearing, you
might be advised to check the downpipes: first, to ensure that
water can run through freely; and then, for the medium term, take
note of places where cracked downpipes are leaking water on to
stone or brick. Their repair could be a New Year task. But fulsome
winter rain may give the best visible indications of inherent
A little solitude in the guise of responsible stewardship of the
building may be in order. And, if there are Christmas angels on a
visit, you might be the first to spot them.
Send your issues and questions to