St. Peter’s Church in Folkestone, being one of the oldest church sites in the area, presented plenty of challenges during Phase 1 of works undertaken by Charlier Construction Ltd.
Phase 1 of the works primarily involved repairs to the fleche, this being the lead covered delicate spire, sitting high above Folkestone Harbour. The fleche had been a constant problem causing leaks since all the parishioners can remember.
The exposed location made working conditions difficult. Even a breath of wind at ground level made the unsteady fleche move significantly. As the fleche was stripped, its unusual construction became apparent. A central column was found, reminiscent of a mast, not traditional for this type of structure.
During a CCTV survey into the lower structure of the fleche it was discovered that a bullet, traceable to a Messerschmitt 109 attack, had pieced the structural timber ‘mast’ and in doing so had significantly undermined the integrity of the structure. The bullet had passed straight through the main structural column. The story made the national news as per the below;
A view of the completed fleche from Phase II scaffold on the adjacent Bellcot
Due to the complex and unusual nature of the structure and its construction a significant amount of design work was needed in order to sure-up and generate solutions that would ensure the structure for future generations. Anchor and tie rods were custom fabricated that run from the top of the fleche to near the base. That coupled with a belt system at the base and more custom fabricated metal angels at integral structural points, were designed and manufactured.
Works were paused during the winter months, due to the weather and location. The final part of the works commenced once the weather improved. The complete recovering of the spire in lead restored the structure to it’s former glory. A finial, with its design based on historic drawings, was installed at the very top as well as cleaning of the mock candle sticks to their original copper shine.