Borley is a small village on the border of the counties of Essex and Suffolk. Borley Church is Grade I listed. The church comprises a 16th Century south porch, 11th Century nave, 14th Century chancel and a 15th Century crenellated west tower. The walls are built with flint rubble and ashlar dressings.
Most of the original render was replaced with very strong mortar in the late 19th Century, which appears to be the last time any thorough repairs were carried out on the church. The buttresses to the chancel, nave and porch walls are built with red brick, the roofs are covered with plain clay tiles, which have been replaced on an ad-hoc basis over the years. Purcell was appointed to carry out urgent repair works.
Internally, the 15th Century oak timber structure of the nave roof is built with king posts mounted on collars from two central trusses, which are covered with a tongue and groove boarded ceiling. The roof structure of the chancel is constructed from oak paired rafters braced with collars and ties, supported on ashlar posts and wall plates. All the trusses in the chancel have a pronounced tilt towards the east end, which seems to have resulted from historic movement. Within the church, there are two stone monuments, dedicated to the Waldegrave family.
The PCC of Borley received a “Places of Worship” Grant from The Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out urgent repair works to the roofs, including improvement works including; Structural and repair work to the roofs of the nave, chancel and porch, repairs and upgrade of the rainwater goods, access improvement and a new wheelchair path, new exterior lighting along the new path and an up to date and efficient lighting system within the church.
Several design constraints were considered for the introduction of a new accessible path between the car park and the church. There was a well-established, existing path formed with small uneven stone slabs, that ran between the distinctive and ancient yew topiary. The design for the new path is sympathetic to the age of the church, its fabric and the overall rural setting of the churchyard. A careful selection of handmade pavers was made to ensure that the path would blend with the historic building and mature surroundings. The new pavers also matched the existing stone floor to the porch. The new path has blended into its immediate surroundings and compliments the grounds. It provides safe and unobstructed access from the car park to the church
As part of the upgrade works to the churchyard, the PCC requested new lighting to complement the new wheelchair path. The PCC were involved in the decision-making process on the choice of lighting. These have been placed strategically to ensure light is distributed evenly along the whole length of the new pathway. The church can safely be accessed both day and night and the path is warmly illuminated to welcome visitors.
Urgent repairs were required to the roof of the chancel, nave and porch. Understanding how the roofs had been built and repaired during the past centuries was of paramount importance to this project. In order to investigate the construction, several localised areas were opened on the nave and chancel roofs before the main works started, which helped identify exactly what needed to be done. Extensive timber repairs were carried out to all the roofs with the input of the structural engineer. The re-tiling was completed using salvaged tiles. All the new rainwater goods were made from cast iron to compliment the retiled roofs.