Boyton Church has been in need of restoration for many years. We have been fortunate to obtain an English Heritage grant of £98,689 towards repairs to the roof. Further grants were obtained from the Alan Evans Trust (£1000), the Allchurches Trust (£200), the Charles French Trust (£3000), The Really Useful Group (£750), The Scarfe Charitable Trust (£250) and the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust (£7500).
Although the repairs to the roof were completed by Cubitt Theobald in 2006 there were insufficient funds to even start the repairs to the tower and the extremely rare septaria staircase. Take a look at the church and the staircase in a video shown on the Boyton home page.
A further application in 2008 was made to English Heritage and we have just heard (March 2009) that we have been successful again! In the latest round of grants Boyton was the only Grade II listed church to obtain a grant in the East of England. It is likely that Boyton church will soon be regraded at Grade II*. The grant this time is for £115,000 in two stages. We still have to raise a substantial sum ourselves to do all the work.
We are also extremely grateful to the following charitable foundations for their generous grants towards this work:
Garfield Weston Foundation
Suffolk Historic Churches Trust
John & Ruth Howard Charitable Trust
The Scarfe Charitable Trust
The Allchurches Trust
You can make a donation towards the restoration by credit or debit card or from a Charities Aid Foundation account by visiting the Charities Aid Foundation site. Here you will be guided through the process. Alternatively you may download a form for donations directly by cheque.
Our architect, Tony Redman MA FRICS IHBC, writes the following about the special turret staircase:
Boyton has probably the most interesting turret staircase in England. Interesting, that is from the point of view of the stone used in its construction, for whilst the core of the construction along with the tower uses the local cragstone, the steps have been formed in septaria, described by Alec Clifton Taylor as a stone which “scrapes the barrel” of building stones. This was used from Roman times for rough walling, as it was by the twelfth century builders of Framingham and Orford castles. In the eighteenth century it was burnt to form “Roman cement” which had a distinctive red appearance redolent of roman plaster. It is usually found as nodules, although this may be because the stone weathers very easily, and as the stones dry they form internal cracks or “septums” which give it its name. The stairs here however have been formed of very large lumps of septaria, the largest known in any building in the UK, and the only ones carved on three sides. The feat of incorporating them in a spiral staircase is exceptional and probably unique, but they were probably doomed from the outset, being not only prone to cracking caused by shrinkage as they dried, but also unreliable under compression forces. Very little septaria is now available for building purposes, so when we come to repair the steps we will probably use alternative methods and materials, which will also enable us to retain as much as possible of the original stone in this extraordinary stair case.
Tony is currently researching the use of natural building stone in Suffolk and Norfolk and would be pleased to hear of any unusual stones or uses in the area.
To those who are architecturally minded here are some details on our church:
Nave and chancel of 1869 by William Smith, but retaining traces of 12th century work e.g. attached shaft on the quoins in the NW corner of the nave.
Fenestration is 19th century or heavily restored decorated.
The south porch is restored with diagonal buttresses to the gable. The entrance arch incorporates medieval work with continuous mouldings under a hoodmould with label stops. East and West windows are square headed.
The vestry north side is gabled and has a 2-light decorated window and gable chimney stack. A reset Romanesque doorway is in the east wall with three orders of arches, the outer orders with nook-shafts. There is chevron decoration to the outer face and arch soffits. The inner arch has ball decoration to the voussoirs.
The chancel east wall has short diagonal buttresses and the cill band is stepped up to meet the cill of the east window.
The interior is plain with simple 19th century furnishings.
There is a good medieval south doorway with small square bosses decorated with shields, leopard's heads and fleurons.
The roof is 19th century. The nave has arch-braced ties and collars to the principals with the lower braces on the wall posts and corbels. The collars to the common rafters are supported on a collar runner. There is a single continuous purlin at the tie level. Short ashlar-posts rest onto the conice.
The chancel roof is scissor braced.
Access to the upper parts of the tower is difficult and dangerous. This has been the case for many years. The winding tower staircase up to belfry level is constructed in septaria, with each tread and newel section in a single massive block, possibly a unique survival. The stair is very badly decayed and eroded and is becoming unsafe and structurally unsound. Major repair is urgently required to restore safe access to the belfry and to safeguard what may be the only stair of its type in the county.
The plain tiling on the north slopes of the nave and chancel roofs is poor with much moss growth and broken tiles. There is evidence of water penetration and sections of the ceiling between the rafters are falling. The rainwater goods and disposal system are due for overhaul.
Friends of Boyton Church
The Friends of Boyton Church has been formed to assist with the funding and the repair of the fabric of the church. Details of membership may be obtained from Fred Stentiford either by telephone (01394 411469) or by email using the address to be found on the Contact page at www.boyton.com.
Details of forthcoming events and other news is published in Village Voices and on this site.
You can get to this page perhaps more easily next time via http://tinyurl.com/boytonappeal