It is only a year ago since we pressed the submit button to apply for a grant from the Listed Places of Worship Roof Repair Fund and now we have a splendid new tower roof. By July they had awarded us £38,800 and we were then able to move forward with getting Faculty approval from the Diocese of Lichfield, further grants from other charities and many local donations. Tim Ratcliffe, our architect, produced information for tendering and Phillips & Curry Ltd, building conservation specialists were appointed to commence work at the end of September.
To start, a scaffold tower with a hoist was erected and then the old stone tiles and battens were removed and replaced with temporary tarpaulins to protect the bells. Then new green underlay and battens were fixed and finally Ladycroft stone tiles from Hexham were fixed to finish the roof. At the same time the old lead parapet gutter was removed together with the boarding and stonework beneath to enable the gutter to be reformed to current standards with new lead. The very small dormer door was rebuilt to improve access to the roof to raise the flag. The cockerel weathervane has been repaired and gilded and in doing so it was interesting to find it had been inscribed: "To commemorate the new vicar G.O. Jones July 1975. Made, given and erected by Neil Gasser and Gordon Menhinick." The scaffolding is now removed, the roof finished, and you can see the cockerel glinting in the sunlight.
The stones removed from the parapet gutter were even more interesting. When the stones were at ground level we noticed a few were marked with hieroglyphics, suggesting they had a previous use, but this had not been visible in the gutter as the stones had all been face downwards. We therefore had them reassembled to find an engraved foliate cross within a circle, a goblet and possibly a symbolised book or bible. My initial research suggested that the stone might be a medieval stone coffin lid, and this was confirmed by Peter Reavill from Shrewsbury Museum. He also confirmed it dates from between 1275 and 1325. This is new for All Saints' as records do not indicate stone coffins or anything of this type at the church. We now have a project to decide how to preserve and display it.