16-year repair programme at All Saints nearly finished

The replacement arch after fitting
The replacement arch after fitting

The extensive repair progamme for Leighton Buzzard’s landmark All Saint Church is reaching its conclusion after 16 years.

The church dates from 1277 and was almost lost in a massive fire in 1985, but has since been painstakingly restored.

The replacement arch during fitting

The replacement arch during fitting

All Saints Preservation Trust was set up in 1999 to raise and manage funds for the preservation of the Grade 1 Listed building following an architect’s report uncovered serious structural problems.

A seven-phase programme of repairs was proposed and work on the last stage is progressing well, with external restoration of the east window masonry.

“We could not afford to do this when the other work on this part of the building was done in 2009-10, but it was clear it needed doing and we would have to return to it when funds were available,” said Terry Warburton chairman of the church’s fabric committee.

“Thanks to generous help from our supporters, through the All Saints Preservation Trust, we could just cover the cost and put the work in hand. It is expected to be finished by the end of November.”

Work includes repair to the arches and substantial repair and replacement of the decorated mullions and tracery. There is still internal work to be done on the window where the sill is in pieces and some of the mullions are in need of attention.

All Saints Preservation Trust will be staging its next fundraising event , the two yearly Christmas Tree Festival, in the church over the weekend of November 27, to coincide with the town’s Christmas shopping celebration. The last festival had more than 80 trees on displays and organisers are hoping for a similar number in 2015.

“An old building such as All Saints needs constant repair and attention, so the work of the Trust will go on”, said Mr Warburton. “A new roof is needed for the south transept and the organ is desperately overdue for an overhaul. It has been affected by 16 years of dust in the church as the repair programme proceeded. If we don’t keep on top of the work it will get worse and cost even more to tackle.”

A special celebration is being planned for Sunday, May 15 to say thank you to all involved in the seven-phase project.