Plans are in to restore a gothic arch located near what is believed to be the oldest building in Lewisham borough.
An arch has stood outside St Mary’s Vicarage on Lewisham High Street for centuries before it was recently brought down.
The church was classified as Grade II listed 1954.
The church has undergone numerous changes over the centuries, and one remnant from its earliest days was an arch outside. Lewisham council state the church is “probably the oldest surviving structure in the borough with the lower stages of the tower dating back to 1498”
The application states: “Our client has advised us that in recent years planning applications have been submitted by The Mausley Trust NHS, which were the previous tenants.”
Prior applications didn’t seek to restore the arch using original stone:
“The most recent application involved a very detailed schedule of works by R&B Refurbishments, who were the main contractors working on behalf of the NHS.
It is understood that they instructed a company called Lillstone Limited that specialise in all types of period restorations, who set up scaffolding and dismantled the main part of the arch, which as detailed below is still there laying on the scaffolding boards.
The rest of the arch is in pieces or in rubble bags. At the time, they were of the view that the arch was too far gone, and needed to be completely replaced, as per the previous application”.
Lewisham council were not happy with that plan: “The most recent Listed Building Consent Application on this site related to rebuilding the arch in nonoriginal fabric. Following discussions between the client and the Council’s Conservation Officer, the application was withdrawn”.
That has now changed:
“Our client contacted Chichester Stone Works, a local company that specialises with all types of stone restoration. They concluded that the arch could be carefully repaired and restored using most of the existing stone and flint”.
Lewisham Council conservation officers are happy having previously suggested this line of action.
Joanna Ecclestone and Jesenka Ozdalga of Lewisham Borough Council stated “This is the conservative approach to the works that we were advising the previous applicant to take, but it was never progressed”
Southwark diocese states gives an overview of the historic nature of the site: “The tower at the west end is the oldest part of the church, the lower parts being perpendicular (dating from 1498-1512) and remaining from the medieval church”.
The application elaborates: “The arch is believed to have formed part of the tower of St Mary’s Church.
The original site of this building dates to the late 12th Century. However, the tower was a 15th Century addition and formed part of a large scheme of works to remodel the church at this time.
In 1773 the structure was deemed unsound and it was demolished to clear the site for a new church.
The archway from the tower must have been kept aside as a memento of the original structure. This is evident as it had been incorporated in to the vicarage gardens as a feature”