Since our last report, worshippers will be aware that the Quire is now totally separated from the rest of the church by a screen which completely hides all sight of the 14th century building. The Bothwell Embroideries remain in position and have been used to add interest to what we hope will prove the temporary structure of the dividing wall. Three ornate Victorian clergy chairs have been moved from their usual position behind the East Communion Table to sit in front of the screen just behind the Holy Table at the Crossing. Thus, we have tried to preserve the dignity of the building still in use.
Scaffolding completely fills the interior of the Quire and can also be seen climbing the outside of the north wall, just behind the Tower. Memorials and stained-glass windows have been fully protected. For the first time since 1932, it is now possible for the project architect and engineer to climb high to the top of the Quire roof and see before them the damage and wear and tear of stonework and stained-glass.
Sadly, the condition of both have been reported to be much worse than first thought. If there had been any doubt as to the merit of undertaking such a restoration project at this time, it is now abundantly clear that this work is an urgent necessity rather than a cosmetic luxury. Unless repairs and restoration is undertaken soon, this most beautiful and historic part of our church building will be lost for ever.
During the violent storms of last winter, one of the solid stone finials, that crown the top of each corner pinnacle on top of the Tower, crashed down onto the north roof of the Quire. This smashed several of the large stone slabs that cover the roof. These broken slabs have been partly removed to allow investigation into the original structure of the Quire roof.
Amazingly, it has been discovered that no roof timbers exist at all within the structure. (Clever craftsmen in the 14th century!). More worryingly, it has also been discovered that these mighty stone slabs are slowly creeping down the roof on both sides. This movement must be arrested and the roof and walls of the Quire made stable and safe.
It is estimated by the project architect that following this initial phase of work, his report to the Kirk Session will not be available until the autumn. However, applications for grant-funding are already well under way. Before the summer, we hope to hear good news from the Heritage Lottery Fund/ Historic Scotland about our application for £240,000. However, even if we are successful, the expectation is that we would still have a funding gap of over £1million. Once information becomes substantiated, further information will be published.
Revd. Jim Gibson, Minister