Congerstone village

Restoration and New Building Work 2019-2021

St. Mary the Virgin Congerstone

Restoration and New Building Work 2019-2021


For a downloadable PDF click HERE


Our Project

In January 2019, we were awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) grant of £220,500 to undertake the following urgent repairs to St Mary’s church: 

  • repairing and/or replacing rotting roof timbers in the nave and north aisle
  • replacing the roof lead stolen in 2015 with terne-coated stainless steel
  • renewing the roof guttering and downpipes
  • stonework, cast iron and glazing repairs identified in the 2016 Quinquennial Inspection
  • installing a fixed access ladder to the tower roof from the belfry to facilitate future maintenance of the roof, guttering and weathervane
  • constructing an accessible WC with a water supply and a baby changing facility to improve the facilities available for church services and events held in the church

and to support heritage activities designed to widen and deepen the church’s engagement with local communities and to raise wider awareness of the rich heritage of St. Mary’s – particularly its links with Gopsall Hall as Congerstone was one of the main Gopsall Estate villages.

During 2019 we were also awarded grants totalling £36,750 from the Leicester Diocese Capital Fund, the LeicesterShire Historic Churches Trust, the Wolfson Foundation, the Allchurches Trust, the Edith Murphy Foundation and the Jack Patston Foundation.  These grants, together with a further £38,750 raised through fundraising and generous donations from the local community and permission to use the £25,000 included for the WC in the NHLF’s grant, meant that we could build a new extension to St Mary’s containing a small servery and an accessible WC with a baby changing facility. 

Restoration Work

The restoration work began on 4 March 2019.  All of the urgent repairs identified in the 2016 Quinquennial Inspection have been completed.  The rotting nave and north aisle roof timbers have been repaired and the lead stolen in 2015 from the nave and north aisle roofs has been replaced with terne-coated stainless steel.  With new gutters and chutes to both roofs, refurbished cast iron window frames and re-glazed windows, the church is now structurally sound and water-tight.

Stonework repairs have been carried out to the walls where cramps had caused the stone to shatter, and a stone-tile repair has been undertaken to the old flue near the tower top using a cherry picker for access.  Damaged stone mullions and tracery in the plain glass tower and clerestory windows have been replaced, and the cast iron glass frames treated, re-glazed and inserted back into their stone surrounds.

A new tower access ladder and roof hatch have been installed and the unsafe weather vane removed.  It is hoped that a new weathervane can be erected when further funding is available.

The large stained glass windows in the chancel at St Mary’s are unusual because the jambs, mullions and tracery housing the leaded stained glass panels are made of hollow cast iron and the frames are built into the surrounding brickwork.   As cutting out the frames would have been too destructive to the stonework, the internal plaster surrounds have been cut back to allow the rusted edges of the frames to be treated and the cracks to be welded in-situ.  Two of the stained glass windows have been removed and taken off site to be dismantled, re-leaded and cleaned.  The window paint has been ‘conserved’ rather than ‘restored’.  So, only significant details such as the faces of the figures have been added.  One of the lovely results of this work is that in the large chancel window above the altar, Jesus has had his eyes restored!

The south nave wall and the south porch have been re-rendered and painted, and guttering and downpipes have been added to the porch to reduce future rain damage to the render.


New Building Work

An extension, has been added between the north tower wall and the north aisle.  The extension has been created by demolishing a dilapidated outbuilding attached to the tower and constructing a new internal space behind the existing vestry by cutting through the original building fabric and removing the vestry window.  The two back rows of poorly sighted north aisle pews have been removed and the font relocated into the area to create standing room for baptisms and a passage for wheelchairs to access the WC.  

The west wall of the extension contains two lancet windows which mirror the four larger lancet windows in the chancel.   A doorway in the new north wall has been created to provide external access to the extension and the bell tower and ringing room. 

Inside the extension are a small servery and an accessible WC and baby changing facility.  A water supply to the church has been installed along with a soakaway, and the WC is served by an eco-friendly trench arch waste disposal system.  A new internal tower access door has been crafted to replace the old, external door.  Before sealing the new roof void above the extension, a time capsule has been inserted documenting the names of all of those involved in the restoration and new building works.

The names of the employees at Ark Stained Glass and Leaded Lights Ltd who contributed to the building works at St Mary’s have been recorded in the lower central panel of a rooster light box created from the 17th century glass roosters taken from the old vestry door.  The names of the craftsmen from Midland Stonemasonry Ltd and their subcontractors have similarly been recorded on a carved rooster panel created at a village craft demonstration held in June 2019.

Plaques recording the organisations that provided funding for the restoration and new building works and local people who gave significant donations have also been displayed in the south porch and in the new extension.




The restored roosters from the vestry door and the carved rooster