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Revamp for historic church

PUBLISHED: 13:43 12 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:23 03 July 2010

FINISHING touches on preserving on a distinctive historic church took place last week as thatchers worked on its roof.

The thatchers were weaving their way around the top of St Mary's Church, West Somerton, as part of a £170,000 restoration project.

FINISHING touches on preserving on a distinctive historic church took place last week as thatchers worked on its roof.

The thatchers were weaving their way around the top of St Mary's Church, West Somerton, as part of a £170,000 restoration project.

During the work they forged close links with their thatching predecessors as they used the same type of material and found Victorian pegs used in the 1860s.

The new thatch and other work to repair and replace timbers and stonework is needed to protect the church and its looming round tower, parts of which date back to the 11th century, and its medieval wall paintings from getting damaged from leaks and damp.

All the reed and sedge for the rethatching came from Somerton and Martham reed beds and had been cut by resident Richard Starling.

Churchwarden Pauline Burckitt said: “I think it is fantastic we can use material so close to the church. It is lovely that the reed has come from the nearby river then by road and then to the church roof.”

The final stage of the £170,000 will involve installing a new drainage system and the church plans to holds an opening ceremony on the afternoon of October 3.

Mrs Burckitt said: “We look forward to our wonderful church becoming water tight.”

Most of the money for the major restoration work came for a £117,000 English Heritage grant. Other funding came from various church heritage organisations and about £10,000 was raised locally by the St Mary's Buy a Bundle of Reeds scheme.

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