Five years after it was ravaged by fire St Nicholas' Church wins national praise
Left as a burnt-out shell following a devastating fire on Christmas Eve 2007 the rebuilt St Nicholasâ€™ Church, Peper Harow, has not only won the hearts of visitors but those of expert judges too.
The light building, exquisitely decorated and full of beautifully detailed stone carving has been awarded runnr-up position in the conservation category at the national Natural Stone Awards.
On Friday November 30, at a ceremony in Lords Cricket Ground, and Brigadier David Swinburn, treasurer of St Nicholas, were presented with a Highly Commended Certificate as runner up in the Conservation category.
St Nicholas' treasurer David Swinburn said: â€œWe are thrilled that the skills and expertise that went into this massive restoration project have been recognised by the Stone Federation of Great Britain.
â€œThe interior of the church is so welcoming and the recognition shows that it's not just us who open the door and have a â€˜WOWâ€™ moment.
"The reconstruction was designed to make the church multi use and it is now a perfect venue for quiet or away days. The architects and craftsmen did a brilliant job retaining its history and also bringing in modern features such as solar panels.â€
Marc Wiese, from architects Purcell Miller Tritton, explained that three arches in the arcade between the Nave and North Aisle which were designed by Pugin had been severely damaged in the fire, requiring 95% reconstruction in new stone by stonemason Kevin Harding from Universal Stone.
Puginâ€™s fine ceiling decorations were conserved in the Chancel but in the Chapel they had to be restored to their original colours and a fine new painted ceiling was installed in the Nave.
Fittleworth stone battlements on the tower needed reconstruction and a new floor of Purbeck limestone slabs has been laid with underfloor heating.