Since the last update, the chancel arch has now been completed and erected – and after a little tweaking it fits perfectly. Now the gable can be built on top of it ready for the bellcote and bell – one of the last to be cast at Whitechapel Bell Foundry’s historic site. It is sad to see them move on after so many years but great to be part of that distinguished history.
The masons at Forth Stone have done an excellent job of the intricate carving. To make their job harder, the key pattern is carved onto a surface with double curvature and therefore a paper template was impossible – they had to mark out a grid on the surface and copy the pattern freehand.
The apse is also now complete up to the springing point of the vault. Unlike the relatively simple construction of the nave vault, the apse vault is a hemisphere with a window piercing in to it. Fortunately I managed to get my hands on a book from 1904, “Practical Masonry” by William Purchase which details how to set such things out – at that time it was expected knowledge of a mason. With the help of this, I was able to model the complete dome in SketchUp and then produce a detailed schedule and full size cutting templates for the fourteen differently shaped stones required.
The roof structure has also now been erected over the nave. For this we are using Accoya – an acetylated timber. Although this is not a traditional material, it’s rot resistance was considered worthwhile as internal inspection of the roof structure will be difficult and the building is being built to stand for centuries. We have managed to source reclaimed slates from the Easdale slate quarries – only 4 miles from the site as the crow flies. These have been redressed and graded and are stacked on site ready for use.
In my next update, I hope to be able to show the completed apse as we move towards a planned consecration service in mid-August.