THE NEW BRONZE cupola on top of St Laurence Catholic Church in Petersfield has been revealed in all its gleaming glory.
Costing £165,000, of which £100,000 was left to the church by a parishioner, the old Victorian bronze covered dome and its supporting timbers have been completely replaced by a specialist company from London.
Church maintenance committee chairman Simon Craig-McFeely said: “We found out the work needed doing when some brickwork fell off the building. The cupola woodwork had been so rotten, the only thing that had was holding up the heavy metal cross and the its finial was the copper itself, which is 100 years old, and on investigation we found it needed replacing. Unfortunately, this cost us more than was estimated.”
While the scaffolding was up, windows in the tower were also replaced, and crumbling brickwork around them was renovated at an added cost of £10,000.
The work on the church, designed by architect John Kelly and consecrated in 1891, began in earnest in February, and the tower with its flat topped scaffolding soon became known to worshippers and passing pedestrians as the ‘helipad.’
Parishioner Ann Saunders said: “Passers by got used to the scaffolding and parishioners were having to cram into the church hall for services.”
And quite alarmingly, added Ann, when asked how long the new roof would last, Mr Craig-McFeely told her “longer than you will!”
Father Peter Hollins recently took over as priest at the church and said: “Repairs were badly needed for the sake of the whole building. There were times when the job seemed to be going on for ever and the ‘helicopter pad’, a natural part of the Petersfield skyline. Thanks to so many people the work is now completed and in a few weeks we will hold a service of thanksgiving – and finally, an apology to our long-suffering neighbours who have been subject to the scaffold alarm being triggered by intruders at all times of the night.”
Once the work was finished the church underwent a well-attended spring clean.
Anne said: “Parishioners are also relieved because the flies that plagued the old dome, known as ‘Fly Heaven’, for years, will no longer be falling dazed into parishioners’ hair.”