Restoration of St Leonard's Church, 1883-89 Committee Meeting No 7

St Leonard's Church before restoration c 1870

Not till the 14 day of November in the year of our Lord 1883 did the Committee again meet on which day did attend at Bengeo Rectory the Revd W. Wigram chairman; the Revd JCM Mansel-Pleydell; Messrs GE Palmer & G Gosselin. The minutes of the meeting of 6th of July 1883 were read by the Secretary & confirmed by the Chairman. Also the Secretary read a report of the works carried out at the Church, which report the Committee agreed to adopt & have copied into the minute book, (N.B. they not having to write it out.) it runs as follows, though as far as the composition is concerned I can’t say it follows that it runs smoothly

Bengeo Hall Wednesday, 14 November 1883
At the last meeting of the Committee on the 6th July, I informed you that the London builder’s estimate for the roof of the Chancel was £459”0”0 which is £85 above that of Ekins (his No 1 being £374). In accordance with your instructions (cap 5 in the minutes) I obtained from Mr Ekins 3 estimates, two of which (No 2a & 2b) are for carrying out Mr Mickelthwaite’s plan as designed, i.e. deal rafters & oak beams, ceilings, etc, the only difference being that we should do the outside now with the oak ceiling when we obtained the money. This way of doing the work raised the estimate to £388, that is £223 for the rafters, &c, & £165 for oak ceilings & mouldings ___: the 3rd estimate is for a deal roof altogether inside & outside which would cost £259 –. I should have mention that one object the Committee had in view when they proposed delaying the ceiling, was, that if money was not forthcoming, they might be able to change their minds & substituted the cheaper deal for oak; when I explained this to Mr Micklethwaite he showed me that this was useless because we must settle either for oak or deal, since the beams & king posts, which show inside ought to be of the same material as the ceiling. The year being far advanced, I adopted the expeditious though irregular plan of asking separately each member of the Committee to agree to the proposal that Mr Ekins should be instructed to do as much of the work at once as our money would allow, and that he should arrange with Mr Micklethwaite what is to be left undone as ting upon his original tender – finding that each member agreed to this, I instructed Mr Ekins to see Mr Micklethwaite, & after some delay it was determined that £80 should be spent now, which leaves to be done hereafter the ceiling of the apse & the carved work; & works omitted will cost 10 to 15 percent more if done separately. Finding from an anonymous friend of the Church that he would wish to give the necessary money for oak instead of deal timbers, I obtained for him from Mr Ekins an estimate for the same & the money for this has been paid into the treasurer’s hands – being £57 – this brings the total sum now agreed for to the tune of £331 – which leaves £94 to be spent on the roof before it is completed =====
The contract for the work, drawn up by Mr Micklethwaite was signed on 1883, by Mr Ekins on the one side & by the Rector & myself on the other, & since that time the work has progressed, I will not say swiftly but I think satisfactorily & I hope that this week will see most of the tiles on. __  Any report is so long & dry that I will only add to it, that I much hope we shall be saved the extra 10 to 15 per cent on unfinished works by my money squeezing epistles being more successful that they have been of late
I remain
Yours sincerely
Gerard Gosselin
1) The question of insuring the Church against fire was considered, & though all agreed, that, if once destroyed, “not all the Kings horses & all the Kings men” could ever replace it from the archaeological point of view, yet simply from a common place parochial way of looking at things, the value of the building was too great to be risked, as undoubtedly this growing parish will sooner or later require an extra church – The Committee therefore strongly advised that the building should be insured in the same office as the new Church at the top of the hill. It was decided moreover that the Committee could not do more than advise that the parish should insure, since the money subscribed was solely for the repair of the church.
2) – The Committee then considered that most ludicrously cracked device which goes under the name of “The East Herts Railway” – The men of Hertford have taken up strongly the idea of this railway; they, by its promoters are told & being very credulous they believe, it will be a main line from the North through Hertford to London & so they picture to themselves & in the stilly night dream of fast trains (60 miles or so an hour) picking them up for London & slip carriages bringing them down again, the simple journey only to occupy 20 minutes; & thus they hope to make Hertford a suburb of London a sort of “Wormwood Scrubs”, thus again will Hertford flourish , & be a favourite resort for Londoners – failures in business won’t pay – Saturdays will see full markets, when Fore Street from the Clock [on Shire Hall] to the Plough Inn will be filthier & fuller of beasts & pigs than usual & the chief entrance to the town – Mill bridge – quite blocked up – On looking at the line the railway is intended to take on the ordinance survey map, kindly brought to the Committee by Mr Wigram – which shows the town of Hertford & its surroundings – one could not but be reminded of the Ancient Damascene Street which modern travellers compare to a rainbow or corkscrew though of old it was called “Straight” – This main line to London, as at present devised, is to go north from Enfield in a fairly straight line, per Goffs Oak, Bayford & Brickendon, then tis to join the GNRY line a little south of the Hertingfordbury road where the line crosses the river Mimram – thence, with the help of a line of beauty its eminent designer one Birch by name gets it into G.N.R. Hertford Station & round about with sundry sweeps & curves it meanders in unpleasant proximity to S Leonards Church & thence D.V. finds its way to Bulls Mill – & so north – The question before the Committee was will this tacking about affair do any harm to S Leonards Church. In a sketch map provided kindly by Mr Birch he shows his course by the church yard (outside it) with a fine red ink line – this narrow line may show with accuracy his mind’s groove, but not the width of the deep cutting necessary at this point.
The danger is, that the Company will infringe on the church yard, seriously disturbing those resting there & completely destroying the beauty of the scene.
The Chairman pointed out a line which while saving a quarter of the distance avoids all curves and does small damage to any property.
It was agreed that
(1) a main line to the North from Hertford would be a good thing to have
(2) that the proposed line is ridiculous
(3) that the Committee greatly hope a straight line which will not damage the church may be adopted.
(4) that if the East Herts RY Co follow on in the steps of Birch they will find themselves in a dreadful pickle.
3) The Treasurer reported that the funds at the disposal of the Committee stood at £372.

7th Jany 1884 Confirmed W Wigram

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