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cherry picker hire to inspect ancient stonework

GREAT Malvern Priory will be closed to the public for two days next week while stonework inside the nave is inspected by specialists.

Staff from Hay-on-Wye-based Historic Building Repairs will be using a "cherry-picker" hydraulic platform to take a close look at the interior of the Priory's nave on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 4 and 5.

Church authorities decided that, in the interests of health and safety, it would be better to close the church to visitors while the inspection is carried out.

The church will also be partially closed on Monday while a ramp is built top allow the cherry picker access to the church interior.

"You will be able to get into the church by the side door, but not via the main entrance," said Peter Young, head verger at the priory. "We very much hope that we will be able to reopen as normal on the Thursday."

He said the inspection is something the church has to carry out at intervals.

"We check on the stonework regularly using binoculars, but every so often you just have to get a close-up look at it. We're not expecting any problems, it's just something you have to do now and then," said Mr Young.

He said the inspection had nothing to do to with the work currently being carried out to restore the bells at the church, which dates back over 1,000 years.

The project to restore the bells and the bell tower began about two years ago, and some £220,000 has been raised to help fund the work.

Eight bells were taken down from the priory's tower in February and transported to a foundry in the east End of London, where they have been refurbished and retuned.

In their absence, the bell frame in the tower has been strengthened in order to eliminate troublesome movement when the bells were rung.

The movement both made it difficult for the bell-ringers to carry out their task, and also threatened long-term damage to the fabric of the church tower.

The bells are expected to come back from the foundry some time in August, accompanied by two new bells, bringing the total number to ten.

Mr Young said: "We're hoping to put the bells on show inside the church for a short while so that people can see them before they are winched back into the tower."


Source: Malvern Gazette