Surprising finds uncovered as part of a £190,000 renovation project in a Flintshire Church will be formally re-dedicated by the Bishop of St Asaph on Sunday (10 December).
Encaustic tiling in vivid reds, yellows and greens, a beautiful array of fine Victorian mosaics and a wall memorial dated 1732 were all discovered during the two-year project at St Michael’s Church, Caerwys.
Grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Garfield Weston, the National Churches Trust and many others helped the 50-strong congregation find the necessary funding. More than £35,000 was raised by the congregation themselves. £20,000 was given by the Diocese of St Asaph’s Transformation Fund, a million-pound fund which is supporting churches to become fit for purpose in twenty-first century Wales.
The revamped church now includes an internal toilet and baby changing facility and a new kitchen replaces the external tap. In addition, the previously dark interior has been lifted by fitting glazed external doors, and replacing heavy carpet with the renovated original woodblock flooring.
The Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron will rededicate the church at a special service on Sunday at 11am. He said: “I am delighted to be blessing the church as it moves ahead, better equipped to serve the needs of both its congregation and the local community.
“What started as a repair project for some routine improvements became something special, which has created a warm, light and inspiring church where people can easily see and hear what’s going on and can worship in comfort.
“The incorporation of the beautifully restored Victorian mosaics and tiling have transformed the appearance of the chancel.”
Discussions to overhaul St Michael’s started more than four years ago. It was another two years before work could begin on repairs to the roof, but the major internal work only got underway earlier this year. It’s been overseen by Roland Ward, project manager at St Michael’s. He said: “When the contractors lifted a forty-year-old maroon carpet in the chancel they discovered the Victorian encaustic tiling and a beautiful array of fine mosaics which date from a restoration in 1896.
“The tiles and the mosaics were covered in a thick layer of adhesive, and many of the mosaic pieces came up with the carpet. The contractors carefully cleaned the mosaics and tiles, and re-fitted them.
“In addition, work on the toilet uncovered a wall memorial dated 1732 to ‘Honest Richard Foulk’ of Ysceifiog. Rather than cover up Honest Richard’s memorial, it is now a spot-lit feature, above the washbasin.”
The rededication of St Michael’s takes place at 11am on Sunday 10 December. The architect, Robin Wolley, the contractor, Gareth Williams, the project manager, Roland Ward, the Archdeacon of St Asaph and the Rector of St Michael’s, the Ven John Lomas and the Bishop of St Asaph, the Rt Revd Gregory Cameron will be present at the church. The service is open to everyone and all are very welcome.