Orford: Storm-hit chapel pinnacle reclaims pride of place
Church goers are celebrating the completion of work to fix a chapel roof hit by storm winds last autumn.
Gales caused severe damage to Orford Methodist Chapel in October when a concrete pinnacle was torn from the roof, leaving behind a gaping hole and creating an equally noticeable opening in the ground where it fell.
But thanks to the work of historic building experts, the pinnacle has been returned to its place on top of the chapel in Broad Street.
Church member Charlie Brown said: “It came a quite a shock to find that a good portion of the central pinnacle had come out and almost fallen into the road.
“Thankfully, it landed within the boundaries of the building and no one was around at the time.
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“It was sent almost three feet into the concrete pathway and pulleys were needed to remove it from the ground.
“Courses of brickwork also landed on the porch roof.”
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With the damage covered by Methodist Church insurance, repair work began to be carried out early this year by the historical building restoration team from Dunmow-based Lodge and Sons Builders, who have also worked on the village’s parish Church of St Bartholomew.
Scaffolding was in place for about six months and the delicate restoration job also required the services of roofers and a structural engineer.
Some of the stonework was reconditioned in Bury St Edmunds and a steel bearing plate was installed to hold the pinnacle in place.
The building, which is of archeological interest and lies in a conservation area, has stood in the village for 112 years.
Remarkably, daily church activities continued as usual while work was being carried out to repair the damage.
Mr Brown said: “We didn’t have to curtail anything. The roof was covered with a tarpaulin, which flapped about a bit in high winds, but there was only hairline cracking on the inside of the building.
“The pinnacle has been put back exactly as it was, and we continue to open the building as much as we can for midweek activities.”
Orford was among the coastal communities that bore the brunt of St Jude’s storm last October, with lengthy power outages and upturned trees causing mayhem on the roads.
The storm was near the height of its powers over East Anglia, with wind speeds of 76mph recorded in Suffolk.
A total of 15 of Suffolk Coastal’s countryside sites were seriously affected by the storm.
Trees of varying ages were either felled by the wind or had limbs torn from them.
The worst affected site was Sutton Heath where some 100 trees needed attention, ranging from 100-year-old pines and oaks that were felled, to a range of other aged trees that were either felled or had branches damaged.