An account of 19th century restorations in Vowchurch parish church

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This text, transcribed from the parish records, was probably written by the vicar of the time, Beresford Lowther, describing the major refurbishment of St Bartholomew's church.

1840-41. The Parish Church (of Vowchurch) was put into thorough repair. It was stripped and new tiled. A ceiling which rested upon the tie beams was removed, and the present oak roof opened, which had been shut out from view. A lath and plaster partition, which ran up to the ceiling from the top of the oak screen, was knocked away, and the oak beams and tie beams were cleaned and scraped, having been painted and whitewashed for years. The screen was also unpainted and varnished, the walls of the church repaired inside, several barrow loads of earth removed from the founder's tomb behind the pulpit and that part paved, and also a quantity of earth taken away from under the gallery behind, and numerous other improvements, or rather restorations, effected. The porch was taken to pieces, having been in an almost recumbent position, and restored to its original form, its ceiling abolished, and like the church, ceiled under the tiling. The northern door, which was blocked up, to within 3 feet of the top, was restored, by removing the earth from the outside, and a new oak door put in – the former one being composed of all sorts of patch work. It is supposed that it was blocked up, for the convenience of a fives court which flourished on that side of the church till within a few years. Two beams which run across the chancel under the two beautiful arches, and which were put up to support the plaster ceiling, were cut down. The East window, which was more than half hidden by the ceiling, was restored. The wall plates upon which the chancel roof rests were exposed to view, having been plastered up – the pavement within the altar rails levelled, being sunk in all directions.

1849. The church was fitted up with open sittings – the floor excavated – the gallery taken down – a new pulpit and reading desk – and other improvements.

1851. The chancel was excavated up to East wall.

1859. Chancel ceiling painted – altar carpet (given by Sir Alfred Howford KCB) – reredos & walls colored (the reredos was worked by Mrs Harry Lee). Ceiling of nave beams varnished – walls colored.

1860-1. The porch rebuilt – new rails – the old iron cross replaced.

1870-1. The tower was restored as originally – and a spire built – wood work of tower in the interior restored – a new bell added and a cracked one re-cast – a new window at the west end – a new one also in the chancel on the north side by screen – the little window in the gable of chancel opened and restored – all the chancel windows restored and glazed with Christian's tinted glass.

1870-1. The walls of the chancel pointed. New encaustic pavement up centre of chancel – and new pavement throughout chancel. New altar steps and the whole within the altar rails new. Piscina restored. Moulding on back of screen and the arms of benefactors put up. A new cross on the east end of church – Cress [??] tiles – a vestry and a place for coal enclosed in oak. Excavation from sittings to west end – Mrs Pye [??] of Hereford gave 2 kneeling stools for altar.

During the restoration, the armorial shields were restored and repainted where possible. The shields on the screen had been completely obliterated, not having been carved, so that they could not be restored. The present ones are, so far as it has been possible to obtain them, the arms of the vicars who have held the living.