» The past week there has been a cherry picker in the abbey church allowing access to the clerestory of the nave for our staff to make safe the damage, as well as an architect and a specialist glazier to make a detailed diagnostic inspection in company with Greg Primavesi, our clerk of works.
The news is more significant than at first anticipated. A considerable number of flaws, weaknesses and further areas of damage were discovered that reveal the western clerestory to be potentially quite dangerous indeed. The experts were able (to look on the bright side) to determine the cause of the persistent leaks in the nave when it rains.
In short, much more work is needed to repair the current damage, to render permanently safe the remaining windows in the clerestory, and to fix the leaks once and for all. This will cost a significant amount of money.
More immediately, it means the abbey church must remain closed until at least the middle of January 2019.
Thus, the Sunday conventual Mass at 11am will continue to be held in St Mary's. All the usual Christmas services will be held in St Mary's. The New Year's Eve concert by the Rudolfus Choir has been cancelled. The Advent Music and Reflections will be held in St Mary's, but at the same time of 3.30pm on Sunday 16 December. Any other event scheduled to be held in the abbey church in this period is either postponed, relocated or cancelled.
Given the much reduced capacity of St Mary's, the community encourages visitors to seek another church in which to celebrate the Christmas liturgies. This is especially emphasized for Christmas Day, as normally the abbey church is full for the morning Mass. St Mary's can hold only a quarter of our normal Christmas Day congregation.
The abbot and community apologize for any incovenience this may cause for our friends and visitors, but be assured the inconvenience is far greater for us who use the church several times daily. At this point in time the nave remains unsafe, and when the repairs begin they will take more time than first expected.
If you wish to see a revised and integrated timetable covering both the community and parish services over Christmas please click here.
Below are some photos from the recent inspections of the damage.
» On Saturday last Fr Alban returned to Douai after nearly a week at Buckfast Abbey where he was leading the annual retreat for the brethren there.