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St Erkenwald's History - Quinquennial Survey - Nov 1954

Report Upon the Condition of the Fabric of St. Erkenwald's Church, York Road, Southend, Essex.

MICHAEL TAPPER F.S.A., F.R.I.B.A., 1 St. Leonard ’s Terrace, Chelsea , S.W.3.


Roofs, Gutters and Parapet Walls

The ridge pointing is defective. The joints in east gable stone coping need repointing.

The slating generally is in good order but there are a few broken slates which should be renewed and one or two slipped slates should be re-fixed.

The gutters were in a foul state at the time of the inspection due largely to pigeon dirt but have since been cleared with the exception of the short lengths of gutter at the side of the North West and South West turrets. This fouling of gutters and blocking up of cess boxes is the cause of intermittent overflowing of the gutters which has caused damage to the internal decorations. All gutters and cess boxes should be cleared at regular intervals so that they are kept clean and in good order. The rainwater pipes should be flushed out twice a year.

The pointing of brickwork generally at the upper levels is in poor condition and in many places, non-existent. The parapet walls, boiler flue and brick pinnacles were particularly noted but it will be necessary for an extensive programme of repointing to be undertaken at once as the bedding mortar is rapidly eroding.

A few tiles of the pinnacle finials are broken and some are missing. These should be renewed at once and the cement mortar ridges made good where defective. A length of defective lead flashing is loose in the North gutter. This should be re-wedged and pointed at once.

A few of the tiles to parapet wall coping are missing and should be replaced without delay. The flêche appeared to be in good order but the iron finial needs repainting. It was not possible to inspect this at close quarters but this could be done more thoroughly when painting of the finial is undertaken.

The stonework of western turrets generally is in very good order but a small amount of repointing is necessary. The cement rendering forming temporary waterproofing to the future tower wall at parapet level on South side is badly cracked and defective. This should be hacked off and renewed or some more permanent forming of waterproofing i.e. slates adopted if the tower is unlikely to be built for some years.

The toothings in brickwork for tower extension should be weathered off and pointed up. At present these form a lodgement for rainwater and snow and the mortar and joints are deteriorating.

Roof Space

The close spacing of timbers prevented more than a superficial inspection of the lower part of the roof construction. The upper part was generally in good condition and the only defects noted were small patches of dampness in timbers where slating was defective but this was superficial and unlikely to affect the timber if the leaks are remedied at once.

While the lower part or the roof space was well ventilated there is no provision for ventilation at the higher level. However the air was clear and sweet at the time of the inspection. It was not possible to see the condition of the timber in the vicinity of the various points of overflow of the gutters. Some method of inspecting them should be found as they have been subjected to a thorough soaking on a number of occasions.

The roof space is infested with pigeons due to defective and missing ventilator grilles. The grilles should be renewed at once, preferably in copper, and the pigeons and debris removed.

There are a number of apparently disused electric conduits, defective junction boxes and bare wires with ends taped off. This installation should be checked by a competent electrical engineer to ensure that no part of it is alive. If any part is still in use it should be renewed to conform to modern standards as at present it constitutes very definite fire risk.

North Aisle Roof

This asphalte roof is badly bracked and defective. A number of temporary patchings have been effected but nothing short or a complete renewal is likely to be effective. The stone coping requires repointing.

Choir Vestry Roof

The turn-in of asphalte skirting needs repointing as also the open joints in stone coping.

Roof to Parish Room

In good order except that a ventilator grille is missing in gable end over adjoining flat roof. This should be renewed in copper.

Flat Roof over Kitchen

An asphalte roof which has been patched with cement where possibly a tank casing has been removed. These patches should be cut out and the asphalte made good. The parapet brickwork requires repointing. The Lantern lights are badly rusted and should be thoroughly cleaned and repainted.

Belfry — North Turret

The trap door and hatch linings are defective. The linings should be renewed where defective and the door re-hung on non-corrosive butts. The internal gutter needs clearing. The ironwork to bell and bell frame is very rusty and should be cleaned and painted.

Turret Stair (North)

The iron balustrade and handrail is rusty and should be cleaned and repainted.

South Turret

The trap door should be re-hung on non-corrosive butts. The internal gutter needs clearing.

Turret Stair (South)

The brickwork to top of stair well requires raking out and repointing. The iron balustrade should be repainted.

South Elevation

The bush growing out of the brick toothings should be removed and the toothings weathered and pointed. The rainwater heads and pipes require re-fixing in places and repainting. The brickwork joints around pipes have been scoured by overflowing pipes and these areas should be repointed. The open joint in centre of elevation should be repointed. The iron stanchion bars and frames to opening lights of windows are rusty and should be repainted. Some tiles to low roof over corridor between south aisle and Parish Room are missing and should be renewed. The gutter and rainwater pipe to this roof need repainting.

East Elevation

The iron stanchion bars to window need repainting. There is a bush growing close to the base of the Apse wall which should be removed and the roots grubbed up to prevent future dampness. The soil vent pipe on east wall of Parish Room addition needs a galvanised wire balloon cap.

North Elevation

The ironwork to this elevation is in the same condition as the South elevation and should be repainted. The low tile roof should be treated as that on the South side. The door between North churchyard and Vicarage yard should be eased, rehung and made to operate. There is an electric conduit from the distribution board in Boiler House to the Vicarage which appears to be disused. This should be removed and the circuit made safe. If it is still in use it should be renewed in Pyrotenax cable and the present conduit fixing positions made good. The ground at base of north walls should be cut back as far as possible away from the Church as this is causing dampness in these walls.

Boiler House

The exposed steelwork in ceiling should be cleaned and painted. The defective pointing to internal brickwork and area wall should be raked out and repointed. One leadlight to window is damaged and should be repaired or renewed. Owing to the fall of the ground through fuel shoot door rainwater flows into the boiler house. This should be remedied by alteration of ground level.

West Elevation

The ironwork on north—west door is badly rusted and should be cleaned and repainted. The soil vent pipe next door needs repainting and the missing balloon cap renewed. The saddlebars to slit windows need repainting. Small areas of pointing are defective particularly under the west window and these should be repointed.

Parish Room

The iron casements and frames are rusty and should be cleaned and repainted. The rainwater heads and pipes need repainting. A few quarries in leadlights are broken and need renewal.

Lightning Conductors

The lightning conductors should be tested to ensure they are in working order.


All flower beds at present situated at base of church walls should be done away with and these areas paved in stone or brick to prevent dampness rising in the walls.


Chancel, Nave and North Aisle

Generally in reasonable state of repair but the arches and ceiling plaster in Nave are cracked longitudinally presumably due to movement of the building either naturally or during the late war. These cracks should be made good and the whole ceiling redecorated. The existing plaster throughout the church has crazed and an investigation is advisable to determine whether these cracks occur only in the setting coat. If all the coats of plaster are cracked and loose the only effective remedy is to re-plaster the whole area. If the setting coat only is defective this should be hacked off and reset but it is not so serious a defect and will probably last for some years before re-plastering becomes essential. The general appearance is unsatisfactory and further consideration of remedial work would have to be given to this matter. The surfaces generally are rather dirty particularly at East end of north arcade and in North aisle. At points where leaks have occurred the surface is stained and nothing short of a general cleaning and redecoration will improve these defects.

Clerestory Windows

A few quarries in leadlights are cracked and these should be renewed.

West Gallery

Some open joints in stonework should be repointed.

Passage to Parish Room

There is an open crack in ceiling which should be cut out and repaired. The decorations are in a similar condition to the remainder of church and should be cleaned. The lantern light is badly rusted and should be cleaned, eased as necessary and repainted.

Parish Room

No defects were noted. The room has recently been re decorated and appeared to be in good order.

Vestibule, W.C. and Kitchen

The plaster is defective in places and should be repaired and redecorated. The lantern light over kitchen needs some renewal of broken glass, easing, cleaning and painting. The opening light lines need renewal.

Choir Vestry

There is a crack over the external door frame which should be cut out and repaired. The iron casements and frames are rusted and need cleaning and repainting.

Vestibule, Lavatory and W.C.

The cracks in plaster should be cut out and repaired and the whole of the plaster redecorated.

Stair to Organ Loft

The iron balustrade at top is rusty and needs cleaning and repainting. Some defective pointing should be renewed and the whole stair well cleaned down and re-whitened. The door at bottom of stair needs easing and the lock should be repaired or renewed.

Vicar’s Vestry (now Chapel)

The iron casements should be repainted. The leak in corner or room is presumably due to defect in flat root over. This should be investigated and remedied.

Electric Installation

This should be put under test now to ensure it is in order and should be tested yearly in future.

Heating Installation

This should be examined to see that it is in order and a periodic examination made say yearly. If the plant is insured probably this is done at the request of the Insurance Company.


In view of the increased cost of building etc. the insurance of the Church etc. should be reviewed to see that the amount of the policy is up to date if this has not already been done.

Sir Walter Tapper ~ Sir Walter J. Tapper ~ Gothic Revivalist Architect ~ St Erkenwald, Southend-on-Sea ~ Church of the Annunciation, Bryanston Street ~ Church of the Ascension, Malvern Link ~ Guildford Grammar School Chapel