Topping-out ceremony at Warwick church

Rev Linda Duckers at the topping-out ceremony in St Nicholas Church
Rev Linda Duckers at the topping-out ceremony in St Nicholas Church

Christmas is always one of the busiest times for church leaders, but this year Rev Linda Duckers had much to celebrate with her growing congregation.

The rare Grade I listed St Nicholas Church in Warwick has now completed the most recent phase of its renovation after five stone pinnacles on the south side were replaced.

The Georgian Gothic church originally had ten pinnacles, on the north and south sides, but these were removed after one crashed to the ground some 40 years ago.

Later it was discovered the ornamental stonework was not merely ornamental - the extra weight of the pinnacles also played a crucial part in stabilising the church, built in 1785.

Eventually Rev Duckers hopes to replace the other five pinnaces on the north side of the church.

But this Christmas she’s giving thanks for the £250,000 worth of grants and two years of fundraising by her parish which has paid for a master stonemason to faithfully copy the first set of lost pinnacles from an old drawing.

Mrs Duckers said: “Carrying out the conservation of this stonework and windows on the south side of the nave has been made possible by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Wren landful trust, Warwick District Council and the Warwickshire and Coventry Historic Churches Trust.

“We have also received grants from some private trust funds and the balance of all the money we needed has been made up by two years of fundraising by the congregation.”

Stonemason Rob Heath worked from an old drawing and aimed to echo the design of some smaller pinnacles surviving on the church tower.

But completion of the job by Leicester-specialist firm Norman and Underwood Conservation was delayed by the discovery of rot and infestation in roof end timbers once a parapet was dismantled.

The saving of one stained glass window and replacement of two plain glass ones was tackled by former Warwick architect Christopher Langstone, who has now moved to Lancashire.

Rev Duckers said: “We’re a growing church community with an increasing number of families bringing along their children to be baptised.

“Our Sunday services are at 10am and we are also extending a warm welcome to all the people of Woodloes Park following the closure of The Rock community cafe and the Ecumenical Partnership earlier this year.”

Two weeks ago Mr Heath, the stonemason, was able to invite Rev Duckers and Robert Perkins, a member of the Parish Church Council who oversaw all the conservation work, to join him up on the church roof for a traditonal topping out ceremony.

* Services at St Nicholas Church in St Nicholas Church Street, Warwick, are at 10am on Sundays with family sessions, followed by breakfast, at 9.30am on the first Sunday of every month.