High-level survey reveals crack in tower from ‘top to bottom’ of Broadland church

A high-level inspection of a Broadland church has found a “crack from top to bottom” in the round tower.

The survey of the landmark tower at St Peter’s Church, Repps-cum-Bastwick, was made by architect Iain Walker, of Spire Property Consultants, on Tuesday, May 10.

It was the first detailed exterior inspection to be carried out for some years and was part-funded by a £3,000 grant from the Round Tower Churches Society.

One of the churchwardens Sally Mitchell said that the finding of such a major crack on the south side of the tower was “concerning.” She was now awaiting further details about the extent and size of the crack and what needed to be done.

However, it has been possible to fit an extended lead-lined water spout to throw rainwater away from the top of the tower.

The Society was asked for help because of problems with the state of the tower in late autumn 2019. The then immediate issue was to take water away from the tower, which has now been resolved, but underlying concerns had been identified by architects carrying out recent five-yearly inspections.

The grant had made it possible to undertake the latest inspection using a high-lift but it had been delayed partly because of Covid-19 lockdown issues.

There were also other problems, reported in March 2020 edition of the Round Tower. These included corroding metalwork supporting the tower roof and timbers and the use of heavy-duty cement render for repairs carried out about half a century ago.

As this render is so much stronger, it exposes weakness in the softer material, the lime mortar used in the flint construction of the tower. This unsympathetic render has also been extensively used on the tower parapets and it would be sensible to have it removed.

This Norfolk church, which remains on the “At Risk” register, has made unsuccessful applications for heritage lottery funding.