|Posted by Martin on November 10, 2014 at 12:15 AM|
Last thatched in 1989, the roof had gradually become covered in moss and, although attractive in its own way, 25 years on, there was a concern that the straw was now retaining lots of water and breaking down.
Three master thatchers had visited; discussed the choices from heather to water reed and given quotes for the re-thatch. Phil Hallsworth from Shrewsbury was chosen as thatcher and Nick Salt was appointed as architect. The total cost for the project was estimated at £32,000. So in summer 2013 the wardens began the process of fundraising. A large number of trusts were approached and approximately £14000 was raised. It was a big blow when CADW (Welsh Heritage body who have always given 40% towards building projects at Pales as is a listed building) said they were unable to help due to their funding cuts.
So, in Spring 14, an appeal was launched and the wardens wrote to all 450 plus meetings in the UK. In July the appeal leaflet was included in “The Friend” …and then we waited with baited breath for responses. We needn’t have worried. What a wonderful community the Religious Society of Friends is! What an affirmation of love, support and true concern for each other’s Meetings and needs. We received a flood of letters daily for 3-4 months, many included personal stories of their experience of, and love for, The Pales. We felt so humbled by the generosity as cheques from £5 to £1500 arrived each morning. It kept us busy but has been a real privilege to respond personally to all these wonderful givers. The good news is that we have now reached the financial target without costing Southern Marches Area Meeting a penny!
The work itself was due to start in August. Needless to say, there was a hold up. When the thatcher finally arrived he worked for one day and then went off with a back injury and then a summer holiday. We were worried about the weather closing in. However, by the beginning of September the work had begun and we were blessed with sunny weather.
The old thatch was stripped away; the timbers sprayed for furniture beetle; large amounts of insulation inserted as required by building regulations, to line the sloping roofs and a new fire alarm system was installed. Then finally the thatching began. The reed is water reed and has been sourced from Hungary (the thatcher tells us that its quality is superior to Norfolk reed which has been damaged by environmental deterioration). It looks so beautiful – thick and honey coloured.
Meetings for Worship continued uninterrupted by the thatching which was finally finished in early November 2014.
So, do come and see your newly thatched historic meeting house in Radnorshire. It is hoped that despite all the wind and rain thrown at Pales in its exposed spot at 1180ft in the Welsh hills, that it will now be even more cosy and keep a roof over Quakers’ heads for another 40 to 50 years.
Lynda and Martin Williams
(See the photos in Photo Gallery)