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Major Restoration Project Under Way At Holy Trinity Church

Published on: 28 Jul, 2015
Updated on: 30 Jul, 2015

Scaffolding surrounds Holy Trinity Church in Guildford High Street and people may be wondering what’s happening?

Scaffolding on the west end of Holy Trinity Church.

Scaffolding on the west end of Holy Trinity Church.

A major restoration project is under way which will enable the church to continue its role serving the community in the heart of Guildford.

After 250 years, the church needs major repair work in order to keep it functioning.

Roof view west along parapet.

Roof view west along parapet.

Most obvious is the work around the roof. The roof itself is sound, but the parapets around the edge are not. Rainfall over many years has washed away the pointing between the bricks and the coping stones, some of the stones are broken, the rainwater drainage system is inadequate for the volume and speed of today’s rainfall. For example, the downpipes are only two inches across, they run through the walls and have broken.

The result is that rainwater has been penetrating into the walls all around the church. This is visible internally where plasterwork has broken off and fallen against the organ and where paintwork is peeling and mould growing.

Externally, a large piece of stonework fell off the east end of the church a few months ago.

Brickwork on the parapet wall.

Brickwork on the parapet wall.

The scaffolding currently erected all around the church is to enable the work of repairing the parapets and installing better water drainage and management facilities to be installed. This includes the main roof and the tower. There is internal scaffolding currently in the north (Queen’s Regiment Chapel) and south (organ and George Abbot’s tomb) transepts which permits us to repair and redecorate the ceilings.

Hoarding in the north transept.

Hoarding in the north transept.

This specialist work is being carried out by Pierra and architects, Thomas Ford & Partners. For example, the bricks are ‘soft’ so the mortar for the repointing has to be specialist lime mortar.

The roof work alone is costing more than £400,000. The church has received a grant of £250,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The remainder of the cost for the roof work is being met by other donations and parish funds.

Matching Bath stone to removed clergy chimney stack stone.

Matching Bath stone to removed clergy chimney stack stone.

A further £450,000 needs to be raised to complete all the other work. The Holy Trinity Big Appeal will be launched in the autumn.

Meanwhile, preparations include a Facebook page and Twitter feed .

There’s a special box and Gift Aid envelopes inside the church or at

Other work that will begin on as soon as money is available includes:

Repair and restore of two sets of steps providing access to the church from the High Street. These are the curved steps to the north door, used for ceremonial purposes (civic processions, weddings, and so on.) which are currently closed for safety reasons, and the steps leading to the west door and the path through the churchyard, used by thousands of people weekly to access the High Street from Sydenham Road.

Insulating the roof space so that less energy in used. Repairing some of the underfloor heating pipes which are not functioning. Overhaul the oil-fired boiler, which is currently running at close to maximum capacity.

Cleaning and repairing crumbling plasterwork in the south-west entrance; strip and repaint the west doors; lay carpet on both sets of stairs to the gallery.

Repair and give a limited clean to the paintings in the apse (over the altar). These have been suffering from internal condensation and the effect of years of candle smoke and enthusiastic singing!

Renovate the rooms in the tower used by children’s and youth groups. There is an urgent need to replace the electrics box and wiring, repair windows and frames, and to bring the furnishings up to modern safety standards.

Install a toilet and hand-basin in the clergy vestry at the east end of the church which is used by visiting speakers, actors, concert soloists, conductors, and so on. so that they don’t have to walk through their audience to reach the facilities at the other end of the church.

Invest in new and better signage and displays to improve the experience for visitors.

Repair the clock and its chimes.

Making a new roof hooper over the organ.

Making a new roof hopper over the organ.

There’s been a church on this site for about a thousand years and this particular building has recently celebrated 250 years of being used and loved. It was rebuilt in 1763 after the tower on the previous church crashed down on a market day in 1740.

Every Sunday there are two services, usually with a choir attended by about 200 people.

Holy Trinity has a special musical tradition. In the parish, which includes St Mary’s Church, there are four choirs, including separate boys’ and girls’ choirs.

Holy Trinity Church opening times:
Tuesdays 11am to 3pm.
Thursdays 11am to 3pm.
Saturdays 10am to noon, with coffee.
Sunday services at: 10am – church open 9.30am to 11.30am, 6.30pm – church open 5.30pm to 7.30pm.

Details and pictures supplied by Venetia Howes, from Holy Trinity Church.

Readers who would like to learn more of the history of Holy Trinity church can purchase Mary Alexander’s book Holy Trinity: A Georgian parish. The book can be bought from Holy Trinity church, St. Mary’s, Tourist Info Centre, Guildford Museum and the Surrey History Centre,  or via The Guildford Dragon NEWS – £7.99 + p & p.

Many High Street shoppers will have seen the repairs underway to one of Guildford's iconic buildings.

Many High Street shoppers will have seen the repairs underway to one of Guildford’s iconic buildings.

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Responses to Major Restoration Project Under Way At Holy Trinity Church

  1. Mary Alexander Reply

    July 29, 2015 at 11:07 pm

    The medieval Holy Trinity church collapsed because of over-enthusiastic modernisation. It was a disaster.

    There was no money for a new church but after years of fundraising a splendid new church in the latest fashion was built.

    It was at the heart of the parish and the town and it still is, in ways that would not have been imagined in the 18th century.

    Anglican churches are for everyone, whether they go to church or not, so it’s important to keep Holy Trinity going and welcoming everyone.

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