Renovation of St. Leonard's Church Roof, October 1937

From Bengeo Parish Magazine, October 1937

On September 23rd, an open meeting of the Church Council was held to consider the architect’s report on the condition of the roof of St. Leonard’s Church.  The Mayor of Hertford, Councillor Ashley T. Webb, kindly took the chair, and was supported by Mrs. Oliver, the Rev. N. T. Gardner, the Rev. Townsend Ducker, Sir Owen Wightman, Major Elton Longmore, Mr. H.C. Andrews and the churchwardens.  The Council was almost fully represented and many friends showed their interest in the matter by their attendance, the town being well represented.   Apologies for absence and good wishes were received from the Rector,1 the Rural Dean, and other friends.

The Chairman in his opening remarks said he thought this was a matter which concerned the whole of the town.  Mr S. Purkiss Ginn read the report and explained how the woodworm had attacked the sap wood or softer portions of the beams and rafters also some deal timbers which had unfortunately been employed at some time for repairs.  It is recommended that all the affected timber be cut away and replaced with English oak, and the whole treated with preservative.  The tiling of the roof and porch also needs renovation.  A point of interest is that the spacing of the rafters indicates a thatched roof in its early days.

The alterations and repairs to the church at various times during the centuries were outlined in an interesting manner by Mr. Andrews, the well-known local archaeologist.

Both Mr. Gardner and Mr. Ducker expressed their agreement with the desire to preserve the beautiful old church, and promised to enlist the interest of their respective Church Councils.  Mr. Gardner undertook to take the matter before the Deanery Chapter at its next meeting.  The Rev. Laker had to leave the meeting early but intimated  that Christ Church would also give all possible help.

Mr. Simmonds gave details of the upkeep of the church.  There is no endowment fund , but we had a balance of £24 carried over from 1931 when the North door was restored and other work done.  Most of this balance had now been spent on new chairs and the work of disinfecting the fabric at floor level, and about £6 has been received in gifts towards the cost of the chairs.  Since 1931 the church has been barely maintained on the income from the Church box and the offertories  at the monthly celebrations in the summer.  He said we should make the appeal for at least £500 and announced the generous gift of £50 from Mr. Gerard Gosselin who has always taken a great interest in St. Leonard’s Church.

Major Elton Longmore  recalled early memories of St. Leonard’s , and Mr. Gosselin’s devoted work for it.  After referring to some of the monstrosities of the present day, he warmly urged the need to preserve the things of the past, things really worthwhile, before it is too late.  He moved that the meeting pledge its support in connection with the finances required and recommend that the necessary work be put in hand forthwith.  The resolution was carried unanimously.

The standing committee of the Church Council with the addition of Mr. Stuart Purkiss Ginn were then instructed, in consultation with Mr. Weir, the Architect to carry out the work enumerated in the Report.  An Appeal Committee consisting of Mr. Purkiss Ginn, Mr. C. H. R. Hulbert, the hon. Secretary of the Herts Archaeological Society, Mr. R.A. Slessor and the churchwardens, was also appointed.

Ref: D/P17/29/14

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