St Lawrence’s Church has been on this site since 1148 and our aim is to equip the church for the next 100 years.
We want St Lawrence’s to be a vibrant facility for the community in the most environmentally positive way possible. As you know it is a very large building and our priority is to replace our oil-fired heating system.
Situated right next to the canal, the church is basically sitting in water with no damp proof course. This means the stone structure is too cold for an air source heat pump system to be effective.
Previous ideas of putting solar panels on the church roof have been objected to on an aesthetic basis by residents higher up the hill who look down on the church. Leicester University are currently trialling a new system where a grey lead roof (which is prone to cracking and letting in water) is completely replaced by grey-coloured solar roof.
In the meantime, however, we have been recommended to convert to bio gas which is propane gas made from sewerage. This will require a propane tank which we want to bury out of sight, as well as the cables between the tank and the church.
We expect that an archaeological ‘watching brief’ will be required which means that an archaeologist will be on site during all the excavation works with the authoritiy to stop the excavation to investigate and protect valuable finds.
In terms of insulation of the building, there is a cavity between the ceiling and roof but most of it isn’t accessible and we are not allowed to change the ceiling or the roof. There is also the problem of condensation to keep in mind, once you heat a damp building the evaporated water will condense on the coldest surfaces which will be the walls and the roof.
Despite these challenges, we are optimistic and determined to reduce the carbon footprint of our beautiful building.
We are going to section off an area at the back of the church with a glass wall below the balcony so this hall can be heated for groups to use without having to heat the whole building. We currently have a popular weekly toddler group and hope more groups of all ages will use our facility going forward.
It may take a couple of years to achieve this major retro-fit of our beautiful church but we have no choice but to do this for the future generations in Hungerford.