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St Mary's Church at Caerau Newsletter 2002/03

2002 proved to be an eventful year for St. Mary's

Planning permission was granted for the work of consolidation as a ruin on 22nd January 2002. When we visited the site on Friday 6th December 2002 the builders confirmed that the work was almost completed. We were surprised and delighted that action had been taken within a year of the grant of planning permission. As you may know, part of the tower collapsed in the storms of a couple of years ago and it was vital that work be carried out. Scaffolding had already been erected around the tower at that time, but it was too late to save the partial collapse of the tower. We had been campaigning since January 1995 to save the church and know that if positive action had been taken sooner much more of the church would have survived.

We would mention at this point that a previous planning application in 1998 to reduce the whole structure including the tower to a low level was not granted. We contested the Council's proposal as did others. The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings ("SPAB") have to be consulted where changes to ancient buildings are to be made. We have kept them informed of developments and they have proved to be the most positive organisation that we have dealt with. We could also mention here the Western Mail and South Wales Echo who have, over the years, given coverage to the campaign to save St. Mary's.

We are pleased to report that the consolidation has been carried out in a sensitive and aesthetically pleasing way. In January 2003 Delia visited St. Mary's again to take some more photographs. As you will see from the photographs the tower has not been fully restored, which was a disappointment to us. The west, south and north walls are complete but the east wall is buttressed. This leaves a triangular opening revealing architectural features on the inside of the tower. Buttressing has also been carried out externally on the tower. Surplus stones have been placed inside the bottom of the tower. The measures taken should strengthen and stabilise the tower.

The walls of the chancel and nave have been lowered, but the wall between the chancel and the nave with its white stone arch has been preserved. The porch on the south side of the church has also been reduced to the same level as the other walls. The floor spaces in the chancel and nave have been covered with grey chippings.

The consolidation falls short of our original aims and hopes, but we are happy with the work that has been carried out.

We are also pleased to report that the graveyard is looking much nicer than previously. We have approached the Cardiff City Council to see if they have any objection to people tidying up and removing litter from time to time. We are anxious to keep the site tidy so that visitors are able to appreciate and enjoy the surroundings.

We hope you will find time to visit the church.