St Catherine’s Church, The Leigh
St Catherine’s Church dates from the mid-13th century with the west end tower added in the mid-late 15th century. It is built of local blue lias stone with limestone dressings for door and window openings. The tower curiously was built with fine ashlar limestone on the west elevation but of lias stone with bands of ashlar work at each floor level and parapets.
Lias is particularly prone to delamination and if the mortar joints are not well maintained, decays rapidly. St Catherine’s is quite exposed. This degree of exposure, the poor maintenance of the stone and wash off from rainwater chutes to the tower roof had combined to make a completely saturated wall with very considerable frost damaged stone. This must have been a long-standing problem because traces of an earlier render repair to the tower survived though was falling off in sheets.
The building repairs included consolidation of the stonework, replacing stone which was damaged beyond repair and re-rendering in a lime mortar. The parapets were taken down and rebuilt, the lead roof of the tower was recovered and a new lead downpipe introduced on the north elevation to take rainwater to ground level.
On completion of the works the render was limewashed and lined out as an imitation of ashlar work. The work was grant aided by English Heritage.