St Mary's 900
St Mary’s church, Maldon, will celebrate its 900th birthday in 2030. Though there were significant additions to St Mary’s during the twentieth century, such as the building of the Octagon in 1992, the last major restoration of the church itself was undertaken by the Victorians in 1886. Certain aspects of the building are, not surprisingly, showing signs of wear and tear. In addition, the way in which church buildings are used in the early twenty-first century is a long way from the way in which they were used in the nineteenth.
We have an exciting project to put St Mary’s into good order and to enable it to respond to the needs of both the church community and the wider community, ensuring that St Mary’s is still standing and ministering to both on its little hill above the Blackwater in another 900 years’ time.
We have already managed to repoint and restore the tower, including replacing the shingles on our iconic spire. We have also removed the Victorian cement plaster, which was causing damp problems, and replaced it with lime plaster, which allows the ancient walls to breathe. The entire church has been redecorated.
However, much still needs to be done:
Rewire the entire building
The current wiring is very old and much of it no longer works properly.
New wiring will allow us to upgrade the entire electrical installation, facilitating new lighting etc. and enabling more flexibility in the way the building can be used; for instance by responding to the need for an arts centre space in Maldon.
Relight the building
In common with the wiring, the lighting is well past its sell by date. We intend installing a state of the art LED system that will not only make the building brighter but will give us flexibility to adjust the lighting according to the needs of individual services and events. We also intend installing a new Audio Visual system alongside this work.
New flooring and new underfloor heating. This will enable us to keep the church at a constant temperature throughout the year, allowing us to make the building available to the whole community seven days a week. The defunct Victorian heating ducts are unstable and have caused the floor to shift and become uneven. In addition, there are areas of the pew platforms which are rotting and becoming dangerous. The Victorians placed these platforms directly on bare earth!
Installing new underfloor heating will also allow us to put a new and beautiful stone floor in place. The underfloor heating will be powered by a heat pump and be carbon neutral. We also intend placing solar panels on the roof of the south aisle. Since these will be behind the parapet, they will not be seen but they will provide a good source of green electricity.
Modern, flexible seating will be installed, improving comfort and flexibility for both worship and community use. The seating is being carefully chosen in order to maintain the very special “monastic” character of St Mary’s.
A new pipe organ
St Mary’s has an admirable reputation for the quality of its music, which plays a central part in and greatly enhances the life of both the church and the town. The old organ was, sadly, condemned in 1984 and is now unplayable. Following an exhaustive programme of research and tendering, we were able to source a second-hand pipe organ by Klais Orgelbau of Cologne. Klais has an enviable reputation and is one of the most famous organ builders in the world. This organ is only 30 years old and became available due to the Roman Catholic church where it was situated being sold.
We have asked Hey Orgelbau to adapt the organ to sit on a specially constructed gallery at the west end of the church; returning the organ to the position it occupied until the 1886 restoration. It will become only the sixth organ by Klais in the UK, joining the organs in Bath Abbey, St John’s Smith Square, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Haileybury College and a house organ in a remote part of the Scottish Highlands. We are confident that the organ will become a major draw for visitors to St Mary’s and to Maldon. The new organ will feature 26 stops and nearly 1,500 handcrafted pipes. Why not consider sponsoring a stop or a pipe? All monies raised will support the entire restoration of the church but sponsorship of a stop or pipe is a wonderful way to have your contribution recorded. Why not consider sponsorship in memory of a special event or of a loved one?
The smallest pipe can be sponsored for £26 and donations can go all the way up to sponsoring the largest (16’) pipes on the pedal at £400.
An entire stop can be sponsored for between £2,000 and £12,000. If you’d like to find out more, email email@example.com
The new organ specifications
Klais Specification (Modified)
Manual Hauptwerk C-g’’’
Principal 8’ (front display: 75% tin)
Quint 2 2/3’
Terz 1 3/5’
Larigot 1 1/3’
Manual Schwellwerk C-g’’’
Voix Celeste 8’ (tenor C)
Sw to Hw
Sw to Ped
Hw to Ped
Sw sub-octave (new)
Sw sub-octave to Hw (new)