History Boys; TRADITIONAL SKILLS HELP RESCUE ANCIENT CHURCH

Article excerpt

Byline: ANDREW FORGRAVE Rural Affairs Editor

AN historic church has had a makeover using traditional building techniques that would have been familiar to the medieval masons who built it.

St Mary Magdalene's Church in Gwaenysgor, near Prestatyn, is mentioned in the Domesday Book but in recent times its ancient perimeter wall has looked as if William the Conqueror himself had laid siege to it.

Not any more - a major restoration has been carried out by an expert in traditional building techniques.

Former milkman Richard Jones, now a stonemason at Denbighshire Countryside Skills (DCS), said the wall had been in danger of collapse.

"It was probably last been repaired 200 years ago," he said.

"It was falling down in places and there was probably more plant life in it than there was mortar. We had to dismantle some sections of it."

The PS26,000 restoration was funded by rural agency Cadwyn Clwyd using RDP funding. Extra money came from the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley AONB's sustainable development fund.

Gwaenysgor Church was probably rebuilt some time after 1100.

People's Warden Yvonne McCormack said: "This is a very historic church. It has some wonderful features like the wooden arch on the way into the church which was made from a single piece of oak in the 1500s."

Over the past couple of years the church has been involved with Cadwyn Clwyd's Living Churchyards project in Flintshire.

This aims to encourage wildlife and flowers using traditional methods such as scything.

So when it came to repairing the churchyard wall, another traditional technique was used.

"Lime mortar was what the Romans used for building and it was used throughout the Middle Ages," said Richard.

"I really enjoy working with it because the finished stonework looks just as it did when it was built hundreds of years ago. …