Care of the church

Care of the church

Before we say a word to visitors, we have told them what our church means to us by the way we care for it. Many people say how much they appreciate the welcoming warmth and brightness of St James's. This is achieved in various ways.

Sweeping up
Gutter clean

The Properties Team

This has the responsibility to the Parochial Church Council for the maintenance, upkeep and care of the church, the hall, the vicarage, the garage, the shed and all other structures, but not the moveable items which are the legal responsibility of the churchwardens. The churchyard is maintained by the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, overseen by the committee. However, as their care is pretty basic a new Gardening Club was formed in 2018 to improve its upkeep, especially the new garden around the west porch.

The diocese requires and pays for an architect to carry out a quinquennial (five-yearly) inspection of our church property and fabric. The funding and carrying out any maintenance work required by the architect is our responsibility. Heating, electrical services, fire appliances, lighting, the clock, the bells, and the lightning conductor all have regular professional inspections and maintenance, and these have been done on schedule. All records of inspections and certificates are recorded and filed in the logbook held in the office.

There are innumerable works of maintenance, repair, renovation and sometimes construction which need to be done. These are tackled as they arise, often by team members themselves. Although some of the team have professional skills, some major work requires outside assistance. The team will assess the work required, obtain estimates and make recommendations to the PCC.

An important maintenance activity undertaken by the Properties team in the autumn is the annual leaf sweep and gutter clean. All gutters of both the church and the hall are cleared of leaves that have built up over the year, after which the gutters and drain pipes are flushed through to ensure the free passage of water. This is undertaken in December with the support from the Scouts. The leaves in the courtyard and cark park are also swept up. Volunteers are drafted in to help with this necessary work. As in recent years, the church spring cleaning was conducted over a two week period just before Easter. 

During 2017 there were major works on the church building. Two toilets were installed in the west porch, and the glass exterior doors were replaced. Cupboards for Fairtrade stock were created in the hall. The vestry furniture was upgraded, and storage rationalised. The heating was examined and remedial works done to improve the warmth of the church. Further remedial work was required on the AV installation. The clock dial was restored and refitted into the tower and at the same time repairs were undertaken to the stonework. The organ renovation began and was completed in 2019.

During 2018 regular maintenance activities have been undertaken as required, including repairs to the gutters, light fittings and various items of furniture. Whilst the paintwork on the brick walls remains in a poor state of repair because of the earlier ingress of water, particularly in the south aisle and chancel, redecoration is being deferred to spread both the cost and disruption. The date for the complete internal redecoration is yet to be established and will entail closure of the building for an extended period. Damp within the external fabric of the church remains a concern and is the subject of regular monitoring.

In addition to the regular maintenance a number of material activities have taken place during the year. A major upgrade of lighting in the tower and spire has taken place, including the provision of emergency lighting. In line with the H&S assessment, access to the tower is now key controlled. Damaged tiles in the baptistry have been temporarily removed, replaced by levelled screed, whilst its long term use is reviewed and prospective restorers of Victorian tiles identified. The ambience of the vestry has been improved by the installation of a toughened frosted glass window. New notice boards have been erected throughout the church building to give a consistent style. Lights are subject to regular review and wherever feasible failed components are replaced with the latest energy efficient components. In line with this policy the failed high level floodlight in the chancel has been replaced with an LED unit. The latest Quinquennial Survey says that the church building is considered to be in generally good order.

Contact for properties

Bryan Basdell on 020 8979 2040

VacumingThe Cleaning Team

There are regular weekly cleaning tasks undertaken by volunteers. This involves sweeping the wood and tiled floors and hoovering the carpet; polishing the brass (candlesticks, cross, wall plaques); running a duster over the pews and choir stalls, and tidying the kneelers and chairs. All the cleaning equipment needed is kept in the vestry porch. The altar linen is washed and ironed by a member of the congregation and the choir robes are looked after by a member of the choir.

Together with the other disciplines of Lent, the annual cleaning of our church building is a preparation for Easter. This is a grand session of very thorough 'spring cleaning' carried out by a group of volunteers who do a 'mass attack'. This lasts several days and absolutely everything is cleaned, scrubbed and polished. The high-level areas, roof trusses, window ledges, column caps and chandeliers are dusted. The chairs are dusted, the pews polished, the floors are washed and sealed and the carpets hoovered. This dusting and sweeping includes the vestry, the porches, the belfry and the clock chamber.

All this work needs helpers! More volunteers are always very welcome.

Contact for cleaning 

Debbie Nunn on 020 8979 3078