On the 7th day of October in the Year of our Lord 1886 at 5 o’clock pm The Committee for the preservation of St Leonard’s Church Bengeo met at Bengeo Rectory – There were present The Revd Canon Wigram Chairman, The Revd JCM Mansel Pleydell Rector & Treasurer & Mr G Gosselin Secretary – NB The other members of the Committee had gone in for yokes of oxen, fields, or wives & so could not come __
1st The minutes of the Committee meeting of 5th January 1885 were read & Confirmed by the Chairman.
2nd the report of work done since that meeting was taken as read & it was agreed that this report should be copied into the minute book _
The Secretary stated that Mr Mickelthwaite had been down on the 30th of June in this year and had desired that the plaster should be removed from the Chancel walls (outside) so that he might judge the state of the walls underneath – (much of this plaster was in a bad state & much was gone altogether) – this was done by Mr Ekins, and when this was taken off 3 curious holes filled with clay & chopped straw & flints were found next to the opening in north wall of Chancel.
Mr Mickelthwaite came down on the 30th of September to look at the walls and considers that the larger part will nothing doing to it the Norman surface being in very good preservation.
The first thing that ought to be done is to secure the perpendicular window on South side of Chancel: this will have to be taken out & ????; then Mr Mickelthwaite advises that the walls where the stones are loose on the mortar bad should be repaired with good Lias mortar1. The holes in the north wall he wishes left at present till the learned have given their opinion as to what they may have been used for _
The Chairman remarked that Church Stone of which the perpendicular window is made is a difficult material to deal with when old as it gets very rotten however it was agreed that Mr Ekins should be instructed to employ a trustworthy mason to do the work _
The Treasurer produced his accounts showing that on the 13 August 1885 £41”13” had been paid to Mr Ekin for paving the blue brick channel round the church and sundry small repairs also that on the 13th August 1885 £11.6.2 had been paid Mr Ekins for bricking up the door in the South wall of Chancel – this was paid for out of subscriptions paid in to the Treasurer – leaving a balance still in his hands of £ “ “ 2
Copy of Report read at meeting of 7th October 1886
Gentlemen I have to report that according to your wish expressed at the last Committee meeting on the 5th of January 1886 Capt Croft, Mr Palmer & I met at the church yard to inspect a hole dug by Mr Ekins in the yard NE by E of the Church, as we expected we found the ground to consist chiefly of a heavy clay mixed with stones but in a very hollow state from the continual burials, we tested the porosity by throwing in much water which disappeared as fast as we poured & we agreed that it would be quite safe to carry out Mr Mickelthwaites plan of drainage without any risk of the water finding its way onto the road. Therefore Mr Ekins was instructed to begin the work at once, this he did on the 27th March and it was finished on the 1st May, some divergence from Mr Mickelthwaites plan was necessary owing to a vault at the East end of the Church, 2 extra catch pits having to be added then with a sundrys raised the cost by £8.13.6 from which had to be deducted the cost of a few lengths of pipe by which it was found wise to shorten the drain at outlet _ The total cost was £41.13.0 which was paid by our Treasurer out of moneys provided for it
On July the 10th 1885 Mr Ekins took in hand the blocking up of the South door of Chancel this was well & soundly done in red brick in cement leaving a recess inside & outside to show where the door had been one of the entrance jambs had to be reset; the old door barlick has been preserved (for the present) a date star was inserted on the outside. This work which was finished on the 24th July 1885 Cost £11.6.2 which our Treasurer also paid for __
During the same year the ground round the Church, was by Mr Mickelthwaite’s advise, sloped back from the new drain, & in some places lowered considerably and returned, the earth thus obtained was put in between the grave mounds and in low holes – also the paths which were singularly muddy were graded to one uniform slope, all the clay surface of them removed then a thick coat of Brick bats tiles &c laid & on this a good surface of hoggin was spread, they are much improved thereby _
Also during that same year the dissenting Salmon (the Carpenter) did repair the fence round the Church yard the Rotten parts were strengthened with oak spurs, the broken & lost poles were replaced, a deal copping put on & a batten nailed round the bottom of fence, also 2 new oak gateposts with so called ornamental dissenting looking tops were put up this took the dissenter 3 months to do – he is a deliberate man.
The brick wall under this fence should be repaired by the Parish if the Parish had the slightest idea of doing its duty
Mr Mickelthwaite came down on the 30th June 1886 & was pleased with the work done he wished the plaster removed from the Chancel walls (outside) so that he might be able to examine them which he did on the 30th of September last; most of the Norman work where it has not been pulled about is in a good state only the lower parts of the walls where the dumb & fresh have walked and round the inserted windows will want repairing – the Southern Perpendicular window is in a bad state & he advises that it be taken out with great care and reset new star being inserted where necessary. This we proposed doing at once if the weather will permit – it will be a costly business, but Mr Mickelthwaite fears that the window may take the law into its own hands and fall out if we do not see to it. I should mention that when the plaster was being taken down, 3 more curious holes were discovered in the chancel north wall hard by to that allready known in one of these was found the remains of a purbeck star buson where it came from has not yet been determined. Mr Micklethwaite suggests with regard to these 4 holes in the wall, that they may be joist holes, doorway & seater cupboard of a long since vanished hermits timber house & may be he is right, but if so that hermit must have been a man of simple tastes, not devoted to comfort, impervious to damp & with all not fat looking at the width of the door _
I need only add that the church is certainly stronger & dryer that when the Committee took it in hand in February 1883 but I must say I wish that subscriptions were more handy at coming in, but perhaps if they were we might do our work too quickly _
Gerard Gosselin Hon Sec
1889 March 5th … signed WWigram . (Chairman)
1 Lias mortar is mortar made from Blue Lias a stone which is prevalent in the cliffs around Charmouth & Lyme Regis
2 The sum of money was never filled in