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Spire damaged by Storm Eunice replaced

09 September 2022

Apex

THE tip of a church spire blown down last winter by Storm Eunice has been replaced in a complex operation by specialists.

Video that showed the top three metres of the stonework plunging to earth at St Thomas’s, Wells, in Somerset (News, 25 February), attracted international attention in February when it was taken up by news outlets.

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Stonemasons had to piece the broken fragments together so that they could carve an exact replica of the 18th-century masonry. They added additional reinforcement to prevent its falling again. The original weathervane, also damaged in the fall, was straightened as part of a project costing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

The Priest-in-Charge of the Grade II listed church, the Revd Claire Towns, said that the restoration was “a symbol of hope” for Wells. “We are hugely thankful to all those who have offered us prayers, encouragement, and support in the past few months.”

The claims director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, Jeremy Trott, which oversaw the work, said that the repairers, Sally Strachey Historic Conservation, of Wells, had contacted them immediately after seeing the video clip. He said: “Thankfully, no one was injured, and the damage was minimal. It could have been a lot worse.”

The restoration coincided with the Met Office’s publication this week of its annual list of names for the coming winter’s storm season. The list, compiled with the Irish and Dutch met offices, ranges from Antoni and Betty to Nelly and Wouter. It prompted Ecclesiastical to urge church authorities to take precautions to prevent potentially severe damage to their buildings.

They include visual checks for dangers such as overgrown vegetation, loose roof materials, and damaged guttering or blocked rainwater gullies. It also suggests checking drains in the surrounding grounds, such as access roads and car parks, to identify potential flooding risks.

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